God Is Love

Twice in his first letter, the apostle John makes this very simple yet profound statement – God is love. You will notice that John didn’t say that God is loving, which He is, rather he said that God is love. Love is the very essence of who God is. Earlier I said that since God is holy, each and every one of His attributes could have the adjective holy added to it. God is holy omnipotence; He is holy omniscience. And now I am saying that everything God is comes to us through the filter of His love. Probably the best known and most memorized verse in all of scripture, John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” All of creation is enveloped in His love. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus enjoins us to love our enemies with this rationale. Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV) “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” God’s default position to this world and all who live on it is love.

But that raises the very interesting question of exactly what is love? Early 20th century psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan gave us this definition of love. “When the satisfaction or the security of another person becomes as significant to one as one’s own satisfaction or security, then the state of love exists. Under no other circumstances is a state of love present, regardless of the popular usage of the term.” Our security and satisfaction are as important to God as His own. Contemporary singer/songwriter Michael Card wrote “He’d rather die than live without us.” There are two things we can draw from this – God wants our companionship, and He was willing to sacrifice the life of His one and only Son to accomplish it and He wants our best.

For Him to achieve His goal of wanting our best, sometimes He will not give us what we have asked for. As loving parents, we said no to some of our children’s requests because we know that to do otherwise would not be for their good. I often fall back on the promise of Romans 8:28 (NIV) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That sentiment is reiterated in James 1:2-4 (NIV) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

It has been said that God loves us just the way we are but loves us too much to leave us that way. There is a disciplinary dimension to God’s love. Quoting from Proverbs 3, the writer to the Hebrews says Hebrews 12:5-8 (NIV) “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.”

So, when we say that God is love, we aren’t saying that He is a grandfatherly figure who will indulge our every whim and desire, rather we are saying He is a God that wants us to be the best we can be and that often includes discipline and that more than anything else He wants our love and companionship.

As you move into an uncertain future, remember that God loves you and, in the meantime, Keep the Son in Your Eyes.

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