GOD IS LOVE – CLARIFIED
1) Sometimes, people assume that if ‘God is love’, then it also means that love is God. If love is God, then God is depersonalized and is made to be just a force or a cosmic energy. That’s a fallacy and we must be careful to avoid buying into such ideas. God is indeed love. But love is and can never be God because God is a person and He has the ability to think, choose, determine, feel, plan and execute. It’s true that God is a Spirit but He is also a person. John’s reference to God as love is the highest expression of His person.
2) This statement also doesn’t mean that everything that our society labels as love is God’s love. Today, we say that we love pizza, cat, dog and a host of sinful stuff in the same breath. But we can’t equate that love with God’s love. They are worlds apart. Of course, God has given us taste buds and emotions to enjoy things. But that doesn’t make it love. Also, the enjoyment of something doesn’t imply that we have to get it at any cost, however illegitimate and illegal it might be! John is referring to a pure and holy love that is consistent with God’s holiness, justice and righteousness.
3) It also doesn’t mean that God’s love is a summary of His attributes or a definition of Him. He has many other attributes including that He is Omniscient, Omnipotent, Immutable, Holy, Righteous and Just. His love works in sync with these other attributes.
Here are a few examples:-
1) John 4:24 says, ‘God is Spirit’.
2) Hebrews 12:29 says, ‘our Godis a consuming fire.’
3) Psalm 7:11 says, ‘Godis a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.’
We see that these astonishing attributes of God flow harmoniously with His love. His love is such an integral part of His character that His Holiness, Justice, Righteousness and Anger are ruled by it. Hence, even as much as He hates sin, He is willing to be patient and extend grace and mercy to sinners.
RECONCILING THE ANGER AND LOVE OF GOD
God is love.
God is angered.
Let’s pause and reflect on this dichotomy. How can both of them be true? It’s like saying this – Light has value only because of the presence of darkness. If there was no darkness then there wouldn’t have been any need for light. Similarly, the Cross paints a beautiful picture of God’s anger and love merging. When Jesus died on the Cross, God put all our sins on Him so that we wouldn’t have to die. His anger towards man’s sin was poured out on Jesus. He did that so that He could display His love for us.
How can we preach God’s love without pointing to His anger against our sins? Now we may say that God could have remained in Heaven, snapped a finger and forgiven us. But if He didn’t punish us then He wouldn’t be a good and righteous God. In the Old Testament, an animal was offered as a burnt offering for man’s sins. But in the New Testament, God sacrificed Jesus as the substitute for our sins.
John aptly states in 1 John 4:9, that, ‘In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him’. God’s anger and love are not incompatible.
This love of God is eternal. Even before we or the world was created, God loved us. Not just then, but even now He continues to love us. When this love comes into our hearts, marriages are restored, tears are wiped away and families are knit together.