Have you ever really looked at and thought about this verse? The wording seems odd to me; the phrasing is quirky. It’s as though John started to write something and then altered course. He was headed in one direction and took a slight detour in order to make what he was going to say even stronger.
As a writer, I can almost picture John starting his sentence, “In this is love…,” and then pausing in thought. Apparently, he realized he first needed to tell what love is not. Before he could show the real thing, he needed to do away with the false idea. “Not that we have loved God…” In essence, John is telling us, “Our ‘love’ for God isn’t really love. Oh, there may be some small dimension of love in our ‘love’ for God, but I’m talking about real love, true love, love in all its fullness.”
Now, I’m no Greek scholar, but every translation I checked – even those that are more paraphrases than translations – worded it pretty much the same way. There’s the beginning – “This is love…,” then the stutter step, “not us loving God,” and then the real thing, “that He loved us.” God’s love for us far surpasses, and is far more important than, our love for Him.
I hear so many people today talk about our love for God, as though that’s the epitome, the end-all, the final word. But it’s not. Don’t misunderstand, we should love God. That’s abundantly and repeatedly clear from His Word. Yet, our love for Him will never be more than a mere shadow – a cheap imitation – of His love for us, the real love, demonstrated through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
“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.” (1 John 4:10)
I challenge you to be far less concerned about your love for God, and far more concerned about His love for you. Rest in His love today.