We hear and say that little phrase so often, it’s almost become trite. But it’s right out of the Bible, and it’s quite a startling declaration.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8
The text doesn’t say God has love, or God is loving, it says He’s love.
What does that even mean?
The Bible says all hope, joy and courage come from God, but near as I can tell, it doesn’t say God is joy or hope or courage. It doesn’t say God is holiness or kindness or justice; it says God is holy and kind and just.
So in this passage, is John saying that all God’s other attributes – His creativity, His holiness, His kindness, His righteousness and even His wrath – all fit inside that heart-shaped box called love?
And if God is love, does that mean love is God? When I tell Karen I love her, am I in a sense saying, ‘I God you’? (If so, is it blasphemy to say I love chicken wings?)
What are we to make of all this – particularly in light of God’s call to love Him with all our heart, mind and strength; to love our neighbours as ourselves and to love our enemies? Sounds like ‘generally wishing people well and being willing to lend a hand if an obvious opportunity arises and I’m not too busy at that moment’ falls a little short of genuine love, if ‘love’ and ‘God’ mean the same thing.
Last year in my Love Factually post, I speculated that the Christian’s mission is to love perfectly or die trying. I stand by that, but I think this might be an even greater challenge than I thought.
Good thing patience and forgiveness both fit inside that heart-shaped box called love.
And God is love.
Peace be with you.