God is Love
8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.1 John 4:8-10
I was reminded in our Church Family WhatsApp Group this week of the message that sits at the front of the lectern in the Church building. How good to be reminded of that message! Not ‘stay safe’ or ‘stay alert’ but ‘God is Love’. What are we to make of such an amazing statement? What does it mean to say that God is love?
Some have taken it to mean that love overrides every other aspect of God’s character. Of course that’s not true (in chapter 1 of the very same letter, John tells us that God is light. (1 John 1:5)
God is not only love, nor can we say love is God.
AW Tozer says:
‘We say that God is love; we say that God is light; we say that Christ is truth; and we mean the words to be understood in much the same way that words are understood when we say of a man, “He is kindness itself.” By so saying we are not stating that kindness and the man are identical, and no one understands our words in that sense…
[Love] expresses the way God is in His being, as do the words holiness, justice, faithfulness and truth. Because God is immutable He always acts like Himself, and because He is a unity He never suspends one of His attributes in order to exercise another. From God’s other known attributes we may learn much about His love. We can know, for instance, that because God is self-existent, His love had no beginning; because He is eternal, His love can have no end; because He is infinite, it has no limit; because He is holy, it is the quintessence of all spotless purity; because He is immense, His love is an incomprehensibly vast, bottomless, shoreless sea before which we kneel in joyful silence and from which the loftiest eloquence retreats confused and abashed. Yet if we would know God and for other’s sake tell what we know, we must try to speak of His love. All Christians have tried, but none has ever done it very well.
I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme than a child can grasp a star. Still, by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So, as I stretch my heart toward the high, shining love of God, someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.’
John Owen says:
‘The chief way by which the saints have communion with the Father is love- free, undeserved, eternal love. This love the Father pours on the saints. Saints are to see God as full of love to them. They are to receive him as the One who loves them, and are to be full of praise and thanksgiving to God for his love.
Now, says John, “The Father is love;” that is, not only of an infinitely gracious, tender, compassionate, and loving nature, according as he has proclaimed himself (Exod. 34: 6-7), but also One who gives himself supremely and especially to us freely in love.’ So the apostle sets it forth in the following verses:
“This is love,” verse 9; —
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
So also, verse 10, “He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”’
Tozer may have been right in saying we can no more do justice to the awesome and wonder-filled theme of the love of God than a child can grasp a star. But we know where to reach, and where to point. Namely, to the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is in him that we see the light and the love of God. He who was holy surrendered his life on the cross in love, that we who were dead in our trespasses and sins might have eternal loving communion with God.
May we be full of praise and thanksgiving to God for his love to us, now and always, amen.