“God is love…” 1 John 4:16
The word “love” can be difficult to explain. In many ways, the word love has been cheapened in our culture simply by being overused. We use the word love to describe everything from our favorite flavor of ice cream to the fierce loyalty we have as a fan of a specific sports team. We use the word to describe feelings, experiences, people, places, and everything in between. So what is love, really?!
The answer to this question from a Christian perspective can be a bit startling… primarily because Christians see love as a person. That’s right… a person. To say it succinctly, “God is love”. Love is not just something that God does, or a feeling that He has, but it is actually who He is. God is by his very nature, loving.
John writes about this specifically in the Scriptures, saying “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16) Just a few verses prior John wrote that love also comes from God (1 John 4:7). In other words, love is who God is and it is also what God does. Therefore, you and I can find great peace in knowing that everything that God does is rooted in love, because that is who He is. As I say this, I find myself keenly aware that there are many sufferings, injustices, and evils in the world that we experience as human beings. One of the great questions of human life is “why does suffering exist?” We often wrestle with our present sufferings and the notion that God is love and love comes from God.
Our encouragement today is found in this… that while God’s love for us doesn’t guarantee that we are spared from every difficulty in this world, it does guarantee that we will be sustained through any and every suffering that may come against us. This is exactly what the apostle Paul beautifully and powerfully prayed in Romans chapter 8 … “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul saw the love of God in Christ as the most powerful force in the universe. He described the love of God as greater than any power, any demon, and even death itself. This is because love is more than a feeling that God has for us, it is who He is and pervades everything that He does. Therefore, when we struggle to see God’s hand at work, we can learn to trust His heart for us. When our questions outnumber our answers, we can learn to rest in His sustaining power. When the burdens of this world lie heavy upon our shoulders, we remember that our Father is the God of love, and we, as His children, have an open invitation to knock on his door, sit at His feet, and rest in His presence.
So today, as you and I do our best to live lives of love toward God and others, let it not be in our own strength, but an overflow from our relationship to the One who is love. And may his love define us.
“This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:14-16