I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “God is love.” It’s one of the Bible’s
best-known statements. But like so many other popular sayings, it can be so
well known that it becomes cliché. So let’s stop for a moment and ask
ourselves, “What exactly do the words, ‘God is love’ mean?”
What does it mean to say anything is something? For example, take
this glass of distilled water. The liquid inside it is water. It doesn’t just
look like water, or behave like water, or feel like water – it is water.
There is nothing about it that is not water.
Twice in the fourth chapter of the First Epistle of John, we are told, “God
is love.” Not just that he is loving, but that he is love.
When this was written toward the end of the first century, it was a radical
statement. In fact, to many people of the ancient Roman and Greek world, the idea
that the gods they worshipped were loving would not have occurred to them.
The pagan gods had certain powers, and they had to be respected, even
feared. You could attract a god’s attention and hopefully their favor with acts
of worship and sacrifice. But people certainly didn’t think that Jupiter or
Zeus actually loved them.
The message that “God is love” was something completely new in the world.
And it still is. As one theologian, Leon Morris, wrote: “This means more than that God is loving, it means that love is of the
essence of his being.”
God did not create love. He did not say, “Let there be love.” Love is not a
created thing; it is the essence of God himself.
To love us is not merely something God has decided to do – it is something
that is natural and normal – you could even say inevitable. It is the way God
is. God loves us because he is love
– even though we are not always loveable. God loves us in spite of our
unloveliness, and he loves us so much that he chooses to make his home with us.
Because he is love, God can no more not love us than this glass of water
can stop being water.
God loves us, he is with us, and he is for us. We see this in the
coming of Jesus as God in the flesh. We see this in Jesus atoning for our sins.
And we see this in Jesus who died for us
even while we were still sinners.
Jesus gave a very simple way to identify his followers. It wasn’t by a
certain set of doctrines or religious practices, although of course, sound
doctrine is important. He said that, “By
this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one
Jesus’ desire is that we be unified in
him and have love for one another.
This is not just a religious platitude. It’s a totally different way of
approaching our relationship with each other. It is the life of God himself,
living in us, transforming us. It is the way of the Kingdom of God, a life that
will endure forever.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.