God Is Love

Yeah, yeah, yeah, who doesn’t know God is love—besides hardened atheists who don’t even believe there is a God. I mean, even name-only “Christians” will parrot that God is love.

I tend to think, however, that love, in general, is misunderstood in our Western culture, and God’s love even more so. Love in general is often confused with a butterfly tingly feeling in the pit of the stomach—really an indication of an adrenaline rush, I believe.

Actual love is stuff like a mom cleaning up kid throw-up or changing a wet sheet in the middle of the night. It’s sitting beside a sick child to monitor any change in temperature or walking a colicky baby for hours at a time.

Love is refusing to say I told you so to a spouse who made a bad decision. It’s also choosing to say, I’ll follow you around the next corner, even when its a blind curve and I’m scared.

But how does all that reflect on God? For one, Scripture doesn’t say God has love but that He IS love. However, love isn’t all God is. He’s also just and merciful and righteous and good and infinite.

So, for example, God loves, infinitely. There is no end to His love, no place beyond the reach of His love, nothing the object of His love can do that will bring an end to the expression of who God is.

His love is also just, so He does not turn a blind eye to our rebellion.

I sat behind a family in church yesterday, and sadly the parents turned a blind eye to the rebellion and/or misbehavior of their two children. You might say these parents even condoned disrespect because they did not correct their children.

In the Old Testament, God rebuked the high priest and judge, Eli, for not correcting his children. Because of those boys’ waywardness, He removed Eli and his family from their priestly position.

Parents who love their children are supposed to correct them. The Bible says this over and over, and it draws the conclusion that God loves in the same way—as a Father who cares too much to let His children wander away from Him into all kinds of harm.

God is love. He cleans up our messes, holds our hand through the valley of the shadow of death, and takes our punishment in His own body. He draws us, woos us, holds us, seals us. His love isn’t going to break down and it isn’t going to let go.

Honestly, I don’t see anything sentimental about God’s love. It sent Him to earth in a backwater town to an unwed mother where he was wrapped in cloths meant for a burial shroud and stuck in an animal feeding trough. And that was just the first few hours of his earthly existence. Things didn’t get noticeably better. But He came, lived, and died “for the joy set before Him.”

We’re that joy. Us, His people, whom He loved and determined to save.

Published in: on November 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm  Comments (8)  
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  1. I love this post but I have to ask how you do not find anything sentimental about God’s love? It is because HE came and went through the drudge of day to day that I find it so sentimental. If HE ha come and live a high life, I would not hold it so dear to my heart. Maybe you meant there was nothing glamorous? =)


  2. Becky,

    Auntie Mary would probably have agreed with you almost one hundred percent.

    She wore black fluttery draperies that reminded me heavily of Queen Victoria (and was about as short and round, too). Hers was a figure and face to inspire terror into the hearts of young heathens and missionary kids, and I can personally testify that even our school principal stood in deep, respectful awe of her and would never dare to raise his voice to contradict her. Especially to her face!

    Nobody prudent argued with Auntie Mary.

    I can also tell you that Auntie Mary loved deeply and surely, and although never married, had a heart for kids that most of us never understood. I’m quite sure that Beth (an older friend of mine), for instance, was in no danger of sudden death for instigating water fights in the girls’ bathroom, or talcum powder skating parties after lights’ out in the girls’ wing of the dormitory.

    Not having known Auntie Mary during her dorm mother days, I just about had a heart attack hearing that anyone had DARED to be so naughty, and then the awful, dreaded words, “…And in walked Auntie Mary!”

    The point being, kids will be kids, whether in church under God’s nose, or under the nose of the most dignified, imposing, superior auntie out there… 😉


  3. A guest pastor in recent sermon punctuated the following verse(s)in this manner (Greek texts don’t have punctuation)
    But the fruit (singular) of the Spirit is Love: joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Against such there is no law.
    Briefly, he alluded to the idea that the indwelling Spirit of God is Love. That is Who God gave us.
    I’m still meditating on this.


  4. I’d be curious to know what you mean by misbehaving kids. As the pastor’s wife, I usually find myself sitting in the front row so my husband can quickly get up to the stage to do his thing. As a mother of 4, that also means I found myself alone to try and keep 4 kids behaving in that front row (in front of everyone).

    Sometimes, as much as I try and teach my children how to behave in church, its just that: I need the space and patience to do that and not have people staring down at me with disapproving looks (not saying you did that Becky :)). I want my children to learn to behave because that is what the Bible teaches, not because someone in the church thinks they need to behave a certain way (sometimes I find myself protecting my children from the dreaded pastor’s kids mentality… they’re kids, they’re sinners, they’re not any different than any other kid just because their dad is a pastor lol).


  5. Good meditation for this time of year. God’s love is far more faceted and intense than we often remember.



  6. Very good! Totally agree. Most people seem to take only one part of God disregarding the rest and dressing Him like some hippie flower child instead. God IS love and He is also holy and powerful.


  7. Thanks for all the comments—I enjoy reading your thoughts on the subject.

    Peggy you asked I have to ask how you do not find anything sentimental about God’s love. I meant that word in its most negative connotation. From the Oxford English Dictionary: “dealing with feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia in an exaggerated and self-indulgent way.”

    There is, of course, an emotional response that is not negative and can also be termed sentiment or sentimental. I have to say, the more I know God, the more I react in a sentimental way.

    But I’m thinking more of His love for us. Yes, He is moved by emotion, but not by emotion alone. So He is never going to waive His justice because of His love. Rather He satisfied His justice in order to express His love.

    That is not emotionalism, devoid of substance, which is what I was thinking, I guess.



  8. Morgan, about those misbehaving children. I suppose I’m looking at this from my perspective—if I were the children or if I were one of the parents.

    One was probably 9 or 10, the other 14-16. Neither participated in any part of the church service. When we stood, they remained seated. They didn’t sing … maybe prayed, I don’t know. One played with a cell phone for about twenty minutes until one of the parents took it away. Then the same child took out a book and read. When one parent tried to get this child’s attention, the response was to ignore the adult and pull away.

    If that had been me, I’d have been clearly rebelling against my parent.

    If I were the parent, I would have seen that behavior as rebellious. I would have seen non-participation in the service as disrespectful.

    Kids will be kids, and I think most of us know this. When I was young and sitting next to my parents in church, I used to do all kinds of things to amuse myself. Some evenings I’d even lie down on the pew and fall asleep.

    But at some point someone told me I was old enough to start listening to the sermon, and when I did, I was surprised to find they were right. I understood.

    Perhaps no one has ever challenged those kids to give up their childish behavior and join in with the rest of the congregation. That’s certainly a possibility. But for the sake of my post, they needed to be misbehaving. 😉



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