It’s a very simple Bible verse and one of the first we learn as children, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8b). Many of us assume that God is love as we define love and as we think it should be lived out in our world.
But, maybe this verse isn’t telling us what God is like. It might be telling us what love is like. It means that God is the definition of love. If love is defined by who God is, we have to accept, though it’s difficult, that love can include anger, correction, and punishment for sin (sin is also defined by God, not us). We are much more comfortable with a God who is only gentle, kind, and generous, and will simply ignore wrongdoing. But, as every parent knows, there’s more to love than acceptance.
If God is the definition of love, we can take great comfort and hope that everything he does or allows has a loving purpose. Love sometimes lets bad things happen – even to good people. Love sometimes says “Okay, then” when a person rejects him, but always forgives and welcomes when he/she turns back. Love gives great gifts and blessings to those who follow him. Love always invites us to come closer.
Once we have known God as love – the parts we like and the parts we don’t understand – we find out one if its best characteristics: His love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:8a). Our eternal God gives eternal love to those who know and follow him. Human love can let us down. God’s love never will!
“The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” – C. S. Lewis
Thank you for this thoughtful and important perspective on God’s love, Beverly. This post brings to mind one of my most cherished verses (the Lord is speaking…):
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” (Jeremiah 31:3, CSB)
Skye Jethani this morning: “Second, forms of Christianity built upon a foundation of service to God undermine the extravagant nature of his love. Rather than saving us from evil and death because “God so loved the world,” missionalism says he saved humanity to use us for his mission. But as pagans who abandoned their gods to follow Christ discovered, any god that needs our help is unworthy of our worship. The message of Jesus is precisely the opposite: The true God does not need you, he wants you.”
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Thanks, John. And we need to really believe that. Once we do, everything changes!