Nothing but Reruns–1 John 4:15-16

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.–1 John 4:15-16

Back in the old days, when my household had cable television, we became semi-addicted to the various versions of Law and Order. We watched the original, especially enjoying the ones with Jerry Orbach, and we watched the SVU variety. We never could get into Criminal Intent with its tall, badly shaven, goofy detective as the lead. It just wasn’t the same.

One of the numbingly familiar things about Law and Order is the sameness of it all. The show always starts with one or several people going about their everyday routine, perhaps arguing about a parking ticket, and encountering the grisly evidence of some heinous crime, a dismembered torso in a dumpster for example. Then they flash to the detectives arriving on the scene. One detective, usually Orbach’s Lenny Briscoe, gets off a wisecrack before the title sequence rolls.

Penny and I noticed a trend with Law and Order. Whenever you see an actor on the show who you have seen before, they did it. When you see the guy who played John Boy Walton or Jane Seymour (aka Dr. Quinn), they’re the culprit. The detectives might first find that person sympathetic, but eventually, after two or three plot twists, that familiar face will be unveiled as the killer/counterfeiter/terrorist/what-have-you.

Probably it is just this predictability that has spelled the end of the run for this program. It’s been a long, successful run, but there are only so many ways you can have basically the same people investigate basically the same crimes in the exact same city. In the end, even the new shows have begun to feel like re-runs.

I mention this because today’s verses seem very much like a re-run. What is John’s problem? Does he really have to repeat these words? Didn’t he just talk about God in us and us in God back in verse 13? Haven’t we been all over this live in love and love is life and God is love stuff? Was John being paid by the word? What is up with the reruns?

I’d like to suggest a theory here. John is not a logician and his epistle is not a mathematical proof. The love of God and our ineffable relationship to God the Father through Jesus the Son is not something that can be broken down and fully explained using human logic. This should not be surprising. My love for Penny and hers for me are not explainable through logic. Happily that’s true, as no purely logical person would put up with me.

The love of God is not something we factor and balance and solve for X. The love of God is something that we dwell with, experience, immerse ourselves in. This love is a rerun that is never old. When we try to make it other than that, I believe, we diminish it into something of merely human dimensions.

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