God is Love
1 John 4:8 clearly states that God is love, not merely that he loves nor that he is the definition of love, rather that he is the only love. This is why it can be said that if you know love you know God. It is impossible to understand God without understanding love, on his terms. This is why when Adam and Eve rebelled against God their attitude toward each other (also creation and God) changed. Their actions had broken unity with love himself and in so doing they no longer shared in him. Therefore human nature became not-love.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love
(1 John 4:7 ESV)

The mark of those who are united to God is that they love. Not that they are capable of love, but that it defines them and they live it out constantly and consistantly.

When Christ came he revealed the love of God to the world, i.e. “while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ denied himself the position rightfully his as God, subjected himself to the flesh of Adam, the blood thirsty hands of men and ultimately death so that those who hated him might be brought into union with him (Philippians 2).

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
(1 John 4:9-12 ESV)

Therefore in Christ the world learned what true love is, the love of God in unity. How does this relate to Christian love?

The Divine Nature: One Love
2 Peter 1 is an important passage that explicitly draws the link between the nature of God and the nature all Christians are to strive to reflect (though imperfectly) in the present age. The same nature that is their birth right in Christ.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
(2 Peter 1:3-9 ESV)

It is only by knowing God in unity, through Jesus Christ, that all Christians are called to a life of unity for the glory of God. It is their unity in Christ, who is the fulfillment of all God’s promises, that all Christians become partakes of the divine nature. This is their inheritance in Christ after having been released from the corruption (disunity) that was their birth right in Adam. Once released from this corrupt union they become creatures of God’s design (as Adam was in the beginning), fully disposed to him, seeking his glorification and forgetting the ways of their former lives in Adam. All this is only made possible by the authority and power of God actively working to restore unity in himself.

Therefore in light of restored unity in Christ Christians are commanded to make every effort to take hold of this nature and promote their union in Christ while they are still in the flesh of Adam. It is because they are still in the flesh of Adam that they must make every effort, because they will not take hold of their true selves until the resurrection. So by increasing:
• faith with virtue, and
• virtue with knowledge, and
• knowledge with self-control, and
• self-control with steadfastness, and
• steadfastness with godliness, and
• godliness with brotherly affection, and
• brotherly affection with love.

Generally speaking reflecting the love of God in unity is not a simple matter of advancing through measurable stages of maturity to finally arrive at enlightenment (perfection). The Bible clearly states that as long as the flesh of Adam remains the sinfulness (nature) of Adam will also remain. What this process in 2 Peter 1 does is emphasise this fact, just like the command for Israel to constantly remind themselves of the law (Deuteronomy 6). In the present age reflecting the love of God is not a simple proposition this is why Christians are commanded to make “every effort”. This means that maturing in Christ will be a difficult process requiring constant reminders and significant suffering, and even then this process will not be complete until all Christians are reborn into the image of Christ on the last day.


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