March 1st 2009

God IS Love

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 (NIV)

I am sure you have heard the expression ‘God is love.” It is one of the Bible’s best-known statements. But like so many other popular sayings, it can be so well known that it becomes a mere 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 distilled water. The liquid inside it 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 is not water.

Twice in the fourth chapter of the First Epistle of John (verses 8 and 16), we are told that “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 statement would have been meaningless. They would never say, “Zeus is love” or “Jupiter is love.” The pagan gods had certain powers, and they had to be respected and even feared. You could attract their attention and hopefully their favour with acts of worship and sacrifice. But people certainly didn’t think in terms of the gods actually loving them, let alone being love.

The message that “God is love” was something completely new in the world. And it still is. God did not create love. He did not 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 is natural and normal – you could say inevitable. It is 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.

He loves us, he is with us, and he is for us. We see this in the coming of Jesus as God in the flesh. We see this 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 “If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35 CEV) Jesus’ desire is that we be unified in him and have love for one another.

It is a new life. It is the life of God himself, living in us, transforming us. It is the life that will endure forever.

Father, thank you for the life of love you have given to us. Please help us to better understand love as the essence of who and what you are and in doing so to become unified in Jesus through the love we have for one another.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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