Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

High in a desert canyon of Arizona, a perennial spring bubbles to the surface. It is located at approximately 4,100 feet above sea level and is known as Fossil Creek. At its headwaters, this tributary of the Verde (Green) River yields 20,000 gallons per minute; that is 29 million gallons per day! Strangely placed in a desert wilderness, this river of life produces a glorious green habitat for a myriad of plants and animals. It's brilliant, blue waters, deep pools, and spectacular waterfalls make Fossil Creek a water wonderland! In short, this perpetual stream of water is the source of a breathtaking display of life, in the most inhospitable of locals.

Love is from God

In the epistle text before us, the Apostle John teaches us about another source; God is the source of love. This love of God is unlike any human form of love. All human love is tainted with selfishness, personal aggrandizement, and self-indulgence. God’s love is completely different. It is selfless, sacrificial, and unceasing. God’s love is displayed in its fullness in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Upon the cross, Christ manifests His love as an atonement for our sins and as the divine gift of eternal life for all who believe in Him.

The love of God in Jesus Christ creates and sustains life. He is the river of life that bubbles up and flows across the parched and lifeless desert of our lives. He is the river of life that washes away our soul-sickness and sin. He is the river of life that perpetually nourishes us, welling up in our souls unto eternal life.

There is more. Just as Fossil Creek transforms its surrounding desert, Jesus Christ transforms us. To have been touched by the river of Jesus is to be loved fully, perfectly, and completely. Regardless of our unworthiness, Jesus loves us! And, His love changes us. Just as Fossil Creek changes the desert into a water-world, the love of Jesus transforms us into children of God.

Born of God

Through our Baptism, we have been washed in the river of Jesus. Through the Sacrament of the Altar, our spiritual thirst is fully satisfied by the body and blood of Christ. Now, the love of Jesus is IN us and has become our source of new and abundant life. Not only are we loved, we have become lovers ourselves.

It is not that God has imposed a new requirement upon us: “You had better love others.” It is instead that God has placed a new heart within us: “You cannot help but love others.” We are new in Christ Jesus. We are newly born as children of God who display in our lives the love of Christ that we ourselves have received. When we live in love, we are representatives of Jesus. We re-present Him with our lives of forgiveness, mercy, kindness, and service. We cannot help but do such things because of who we have become. We are children of God who cannot help but do what pleases our Lord. It is He who is in us and His love that moves us.

The river of Christ is running through our hearts. Therefore, let us resolve to lift up our heads this new year and see the sorrows, suffering, and insufficiency of those around us. As members of the body of Christ, let us determine to be the heart and hands of Jesus. By His grace, may we extend the Kingdom of God beyond ourselves. The river of Christ flows in our hearts and there is a thirsty world all around us. Let’s offer them a drink!

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.