The True Nature Of Love
Tuesday, 19th of September 2023
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Love is one of the most used and abused words in our modern vocabulary. We say we "love" everything from our families to our favourite TV shows. But what does it truly mean to love, and how does this relate to God? "God is love, but love is not God."
God is Love
The Apostle John makes it abundantly clear in 1 John 4:8: "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." The love of God is unlike any human concept of love—unconditional, everlasting, and pure. We see God's love manifest in the greatest sacrifice ever made: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
God's love is the cornerstone of our faith. It is the force that redeems us, unites us, and sustains us. We know love because we have been loved by an everlasting God.
Love is Not God
While it's accurate to say that God is love, reversing the phrase to claim that 'love is God' can lead to problematic spiritual terrain. In our culture that glorifies romantic love, self-love, and a form of universal love that often ignores God's laws, it's easy to make an idol out of love itself. The Apostle Paul warns us about this form of idolatry: "Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry" (1 Corinthians 10:14).
It is tempting to elevate our human interpretations and experiences of love to the level of the divine, but this diminishes both the holy nature of God and the sanctity of genuine love. Our God is not merely an abstract concept of love; He is a personal, living God who embodies love but also possesses justice, mercy, and sovereignty.
Understanding the Full Nature of God
We serve a God who is multi-dimensional and cannot be confined to our limited human understanding. The Bible says, "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom" (Psalm 145:3). Love is one of God's many attributes, but He is also just, holy, and righteous. Romans 11:22 notes, "Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness."
So, when we say 'God is love,' it should be understood within the larger framework of who God is. God's love doesn't negate His justice, nor does His justice negate His love. They coexist in perfect harmony within the nature of God.
What Does this Mean for us?
For starters, let's approach relationships and our interactions with the world through the lens of God's love. Ephesians 5:1-2 instructs us to "be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us."
But let's also remember to direct our worship and adoration toward God—not an abstract notion of love. In your prayers, in your study, and in your daily life, seek the fullness of God, not just what feels comfortable or socially acceptable.
Remember what Lord Jesus tells us: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). In doing so, we discover the true essence of love, free from the tarnish of worldly misunderstandings and idolatries.
Dear Lord, help us to grasp Your true nature—that You are love, but far more than just love. Keep us from idolising love, and direct our hearts toward Your fullness. Amen.
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