God is Love

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God for God is love. –1 John 4:7-8

There is an old Far Side cartoon that I find fascinating. It’s a picture of God, with a full grey beard, sitting on a high-tech throne gazing intently into a computer screen in front of Him. As He observes the world below, the screen focuses on a single person and God’s finger hovers over a button with a single word etched onto it… smite.

It’s odd, is it not, that these sort of images are ones we’ve come to associate with God?

Yet, if we were truly honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that this is exactly how many people in our world see God: a vengeful god, looking upon his creation with disgust, safely tucked away far from the wretchedness of this world, peering and looking for someone doing something “wrong.”

Judgment. Wrath. Anger. Condemnation. Here’s something worth pondering: When we present God to an unbelieving world, are these characteristics the hallmarks of how we describe Him? Do we primarily point the finger, in order to expose “evil” and “darkness”? If that’s all we do, it’s no wonder that the unbelieving world views God in these terms. But, there’s so much more we ought to say to paint a fuller picture of the God we serve!

I find it remarkable that when John speaks of God, he simply says, “God is love.” I think we can easily forget the revolutionary nature of that statement. Though God is seen in the Scriptures employing wrath, anger and judgment, when it comes to defining God they never describe Him in terms such as “God is judgment,” or “God is wrath.” Rather, they proclaim, “God is love.” God’s essential character is, first and foremost, love. Everything God does, He does through the lens of love. He does nothing outside of love.

Because God is love.

And if we are to believe what John wrote, those who know God ought to make it their priority to be and do the same.

Very few times do the Scriptures make this kind of amazing statement — do you want to know what it means to know God, to be born of God? One single word: Love. Those who love know and are born of God. Those who do not love do not know God. In short, it is inconceivable to John that a follower of God would not be and do what is the most essential character of Him whom they claim to follow, namely, love.

We say God is love, but do we actually love? Do people in your life feel a deep sense of being loved, or being condemned? Only one of those is the way of God. Love. Just love.

1. How does God express His love for humanity?

2. How can you express the same kind of love for those around you?

1 John 4:7-21

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Mike DeVries

Mike DeVries is a husband, father and a veteran pastor and youth pastor. He is an adjunct professor at Azusa Pacific University in the School of Theology.

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