John 17 is the last of the last discoursing words of Jesus given to us by John, the apostle of love, before Jesus heads to the cross where it all culminates. It is his wrap up prayer to the Father before the disciples that ties together everything He has spent the rest of the evening opening up to them.  If we pay attention, we find that everything we really need to know about the love of God is found in these discourses and ultimately in this concluding prayer. They give us the inside scoop.


I will not recite that prayer here. Please look it up before reading further..


So what do we find on the inside of the heart of Christ in this prayer? We find that love is about one thing: it is about entrance into a union that already exists between Himself and His Father


Let me say that one more time


The love of God  is about entrance into a preexistent union between the Father and the Son.


        It is not about actions here below.

        It is not about beliefs here below.

        It is not about declarations and professions here below.


        It is about an entrance into an eternal indwelling of the Divine Father-Son Union.



The Non-Inclusiveness of Divine Love


Now you must look closely at this. Because you also see in this prayer what divine love is not and what it excludes. Divine love is not love of the world or even love for the world. Divine love excludes the world. Watch these phrases carefully from this prayer:


17: 9 "I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;14 "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.16 "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. 25 "O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me;


See two things here. First, see how the world is utterly excluded from the divine union, and thus from the love of God. There is no mention of love for the world at all in this climaxing prayer. Every mention of the world in this prayer is either negative or neutral. The  world is not embraced by this union. The love of God is not all inclusive. It is targeted and defined only within the contained dimension of the Father-Son Union. It is not universal.  


Second, see how that any benefit to the world relative to this love of God is indirect. The world has cognizance of the love of God only by an indirect manifestation of that Father-Son oneness among those who have already left the world. There is no direct action or proclamation of God's love for the world. There is no commission of anybody to go tell the world "Smile, God loves you."


What this does is to define what Jesus meant when He said "God so loved the world" in John 3:16.  The words "God so loved the world" communicate no idea of love that would reaffirm the world in who it is and what it is in any sense or that it would give the world anything that it wants or could even necessarily accept as love. Rather, it is an incomprehensible, distanced, foreign love something like a UFO.


The exclusion of the world from this prayer shows us that God's idea of so loving the world can only mean to change and convert the world out of who and what it is in order to enter into the Divine Union wherein alone love is to be found. The words "God so loved the world" do not mean God did something for the world that it could appreciate for the way it is and thus affirm, "Wow, look at how God loves us. What a great guy."  


No. The only way God loved the world has been to convert out of the world anyone that could make the entrance into the Divine Union by faith to where they would hate what they had been called out of and forever after live in self-denial of it. 


God loves the world by telling the world,


I do not affirm you in who you are. Rather, I invite you to come into Me for Who I AM at the expense of who you are now. I am Love. You are not. You do not even know what love is, because you do not know Me.  


The object of love in divine love is not itself, but the Father-Son Union. The world can't understand that. And the only way the world can know the love of God is to lose its own identity to enter that union. As long as it remains the world, the world remains outside the scope of the love of God. And that is why the world is left in a negative light in Jesus' prayer.


This entirely contradicts the concept of divine infatuation with humanity that now characterizes most of what is considered to be God's love for the world. "Oh.God is so in love with man. He can hardly breathe. Whenever he sees man, He pants with unbridled longing and passion to be one with him. He just had to die for man. He couldnt help Himself."


You get the picture.



A Fruitless Conversation


In typical divine paradox, in order to say you love the world, you have to first tell the world you do not love them. Really, it is that basic.  The following imaginary conversation between the world and a believer captures this. The world speaks first followed by the believer:


        Do you love me?

o   Nowell I mean, yes, but no.

        What do you mean you love me but you dont?

o   Well, in order to love you, I have to not love you.

        That doesnt make sense.

o   I know. But that is the way it is.

        What do you mean?

o   I mean, love is not about you. It is about God.

        What do you mean love is not about me? If you love me, it has to be about me.

o   Well, no. Its not about you, at least, that is not what the love of God is. To love you, I cant give you what you want.

        That makes no sense.

o   I know. But that is the way it is. Love is about God, not about you.

        How can that be?

o   Its because God is love, and you are not. To know Gods love, you have to deny your love. God doesnt give you what you want. He makes you into Who He is.if that makes any sense.

        It doesnt.

o   No, I guess it wouldnt. But that is how it is.

        So you hate me?

o   Well, its like I said, no and yes.  I hate you as you are in sin (I hate myself that way too), but I love you for who you can become in the One Who is love. That is how I love you.

        So you love me by hating me?

o   Well,  sort of..

        Get out of my life.


You see why you cannot even have this conversation with the world. It is not about explaining or proving God's love to the world. It is not about telling the world God loves them. (Their only idea of that is a warped self-centered one.)


In place of such a conversation, it is rather only about our living in God's love by entering into the Divine Union between the Father and the Son. And then we let the world see that from the outside looking in, and let the Holy Spirit do His own work to convert totally depraved people out of who they are apart from God into that same union with Him--a union which we have already been graced ourselves to enter by coming out of that same world.


This is the only formula given for communicating what the love of God is to the world and what it is like. This is what it means to love the world with God's love. It is an indirect love. To love the world, God has to first exclude the world. And that is what John 17 tells us. God hates us for who we are apart from him. That is why his love for us can never be about us. He is love. We are not. Therefore to love us, His love for us has to be about Him, not us.  And to love others into Him, we have to first hate who they are apart from Him just as He does. It has to be about bringing others into Who He is, not leaving them just as they are without one plea in themselves.


This is why the true love of God is so offensive, and why the world hates us.  It is all a matter of reference point of who and what love is and who it is ultimately about and  for. The world doesn't get it, and can't get it. (Neither could we until God dealt with us.)


But sadly, neither do most worldly believers get it, which brings us to understand why the idea of the love of God is so warped in Christian society today.  It brings us all back to realize, love is to a standard.



Release from Condemnation


And now we really see in focus what the standard is. It is entrance into and abidance within the Father-Son Union. It is about Oneness in the Father and Son, and of our living toward One Another only from within the reference point of that Union. It is not about trying to declare or prove to the world in some way that God is love.


So are you dwelling in that love? Have you found your way into it? Is abiding in Christ and living toward others solely out of that place of abiding your one unmovable reference point for what it means to love others?


There is real rest in that truth once you realize what true divine love is. Today, with so much preaching and exhortation about love, there is also so much condemnation associated. If you love God, you will do this. If you love God, you will do that. If you love God, you will be like this, or not like that... But in the Father-Son Union, there is no condemnation due to failure to meet the expectations of others of what your love for them should look like to them.


Anything called the love of God that produces condemnation by failure to perform to the expectations of others is not the love of God. It is a false spirit driving a hi-jacked truth. And for this reason perhaps as much as any other I have been led to write this series on the Love of God.


Let us encourage one another then to enter into this love union with the Father and with the Son, and in turn with One Another as He orchestrates our comings together and interactions, and then in turn leave to Him whatever that is supposed to look like to the world.

Chris Anderson

New Meadow Neck, R.I.

First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship