23rd June 2013

God Is Love 

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. …”
1  John 4:15-16 (NIV UK) 

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “God is love.” It’s one of the Bible’s best-known statements. But as so many other popular sayings, it can be so well known that it becomes a 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 a glass of water. The liquid inside 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’s 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 message that “God is love” was something completely new in the world. And it still is. As 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 didn’t 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’s natural and normal—you could even say inevitable. It’s 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 that 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; 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 another.” 

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. 

Prayer
Loving Father, we bow before you in worship for who you are—love; for what you are—love; and how you constantly deal with us—in love. We can’t hope to reciprocate that love, but we seek to show our love for you, Father, in how we live our daily lives as you have instructed us—in love. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Study by Joseph Tkach

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 joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

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