“God is Love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God.”
(I John 4:16)
This is such a powerful reality. So RICH, so True.
And you and me, we were made for this LOVE. So, it’s essential that we understand it, and receive it — and learn to give it.
Unfortunately, there are a LOT of different opinions on what Love looks like. I mean, really, how many books, songs, movies, poems, etc. are written on the subject of love? We humans are so hungry for love , much of life revolves around the concept of love — finding love, love found, love lost, loving when it’s hard . . . I wonder why?
Maybe it’s because, in REALITY, we are all very separated from True Love?
Human love is very flawed. Our reach to find Love usually leads us to try and give some “love” to another, but our ulterior motive is usually to get something in return. . . .
Brokenness seeking wholeness from another broken person = more brokenness.
So, the true source of Love is. . . . ?
Well, you knew I was going to say God, right? But, who is the One who Is Love?
We spend our lives so preoccupied with a very humanistic view of love. So, even if we “know” God (or something of Him), when we hear that He is the true source of Love, we make a huge mistake: we place all of our humanistic, warm-fuzzy notions of what love is on Him.
And, it doesn’t work. Because His way of being Love is way different than our way of feeling and thinking.
So, let’s start from the beginning.
If God is Love. If the very essence of His being and nature is Love — and, it IS.
Then, who gets to define what Love looks like, feels like, acts like?
Yep, He does! Which means that our notions — as noble and honorable and “good” as they may seem — mean nothing, really.
So, does that make it a complete mystery? Does it mean that we can never truly know what Love is?
No. But, I think it means that we probably don’t know as much about true Love as we like to think. And, there is much that we do NOT understand.
So, where to start? Well, I think that the most important truth that must be in place FIRST, is this: GOD IS GOOD. So, whatever He does is good. He will never do anything that is not good (in fact, he can’t!) and what He does is absolutely right (as much as we would like to accuse Him of wrong sometimes, or as much as we don’t understand His ways). Similarly, we must understand that all He does is birthed out of this: His true nature– Love.
With that foundation in place, then, where do we begin to get a picture and some understanding of who He is, and therefor begin to learn what Love is? Two sources:
1. The Bible. All of it, Old and New Testament. This is the love story of His heart! It IS His Story (or, “history”, if you prefer). It is the chronicle of every movement of His heart and interactions of love with the object of His affection: mankind. From Creation to the eviction from the Garden at the Fall, to the Flood, to the giving of the Law, the Exodus, wandering in the wilderness, entering the Promised Land, good kings, bad kings, judgments, deliverance, the strong words of the Prophets, the arrival of Jesus, His death and Resurrection, the early Church, the letters of Paul (and others), the drama of Revelation and His final wrath.
Yep, ALL of it = Love.
That might be a hard pill to swallow as you look at some aspects. But it must be true, if God is Love!
2. Jesus. He is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3)! How cool is that?? Now, again we’re not just talking Jesus “meek and mild”. Remember He said Himself, “I came not to bring peace, but a sword “(Matthew 10:34). His jealous, zealous Love caused him to make quite a ruckus in the “church” gathering (the Temple, see Matthew 12:21-13; Mark 11:15-17). Of course in Jesus’ life we also see lots of miracles, healings, teachings about God . . all of it: Love.
Most people would say they like Jesus… but, they might be quick to add, “but, I really don’t like the ‘God of the Old Testament’”. Well, I hate to break the news, but Jesus IS the God of the Old Testament (well, He’s always been a part of that Beautiful Trinity)!! You don’t find Him apologizing for anything that He (God) has done or abolishing anything that He had established before (except sacrifices, by making Himself the sacrifice!). In Jesus’ keynote address (we call it the Sermon on the Mount), He said this about the Old Testament (“the Law and the Prophets”):
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
and, the Law and the Prophets hang on Love (Matthew 22:40)– it’s where they were all derived from!
So, Jesus actually affirms the reality of our God of Love in ALL of Old Testment HIS-story, and places Himself as the CONCLUDING CHAPTER on this story of Love — the fulfillment of all that was being built and established! And, when we come to embrace Him, by faith, those Truths become ALIVE and real and FULFILLED in our life (not by our works, but by His POWER at work in us! — this is how we “exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees”).
It really is AWESOME — all that He IS and all that He does — ALIVE in us, as we believe and follow Him! He calls us to be Friends, to share in His heart and His ways. What an honor and a privilege! His ways, so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-10! This gift of love is PRICELESS!
So, don’t settle for a cheap, human-centered view of Love. Look for the True, the Noble, the Just, the Excellent, the Praiseworthy — the True Love of God (Philippians 3:9-10). It is NOT out of reach! It is incomprehensible AND YET, it is His desire to cause us to experience it in it’s Fullness!
“. . .that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in Love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know[experience] the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-18)
I encourage you to pray this for yourself and for everyone you know. It is powerful. It is Real. It is Love.
Read the Book of Love (the Bible) and seek to know Jesus — then you will know True Love. Accept no substitutes!