Perhaps the best-known declaration in the scriptures is God is Love. It is a philosophy that has been debated over and over again through the ages; however, most of these debates are really debates over the definition of love. Let’s step back a bit and look at a bigger picture. What are the implications of God as love?
I remember reading a story, which I can’t find, about the world’s greatest general. It ended up being, if I remember correctly, a Chinese peasant who had never gone to war. The implication was that your inherent abilities are who you are.
I realize now that this is a load of crap. One is what one does, not what one could do or intends to do. I’m a good guy based on what I have done for people, not for what I could, or even will, do for them next year. And this brings us to the point I made in the last post:
God is not theoretical.
God can’t be declared to be a thing unless he is that thing, not even if he has the potential to achieve, any more than a man who has never gone to war can be the world’s greatest general. And this brings us back to the sticky business of God being love.
God can only be declared to be love through his expression of love. Even more astonishing is perfect love. This is possible only of someone who has taken something complete outside of one’s self, something totally separate, and brought it into themselves.
And now we see some of our pieces coming together. We spoke of how God created the world outside of symmetry. A break, as it were. It was made dark, complete outside of he who is light. David declares,
God looks down from heaven on all men to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. But all of them have turned away, they are all corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one man.
And there we are, completely outside of God. And that is just the way it had to be. We are those outside of him, and we are those who are brought in.
I will make man in my own image.
This is God’s declaration of creation. John tells us that we are accepted in the beloved. We are not made a simulacrum of God; we are brought in, we are made who he is.
This is why we are given eternal life. Having brought us in, we now exist immemorially. We are then no longer even brought in, but have always been. And God is not the I Could Be or even the I Will, but is now the I Am. Thus, God is Love.
One thought on “God Is Love”
As usual I need to read this post 3 or 4 times before I catch up with you. Sometimes I never do and feel much like I’m running down hill with my steps getting wider and wider, ending up at the point of being completely out of control covering a city block with every step just trying to maintain. The entire time utterly oblivious to the wonders around me as I am singularly occupied with the task of not bringing myself to ruin.
That being said…Here is a thought.
At first glance toward ‘God is love’ I thought of a few of the other ways God described himself. For those other descriptors would need to be harmonious if not synonymous with love in its true (God) definition. Thinking perhaps this exercise would help me bring fresh energy and depth to the word that our culture has almost completely gutted of any value.
I remembered a text that I picked up and adapted a while back wherein a comparison of love & light is made. As Christ used light as a descriptor of himself I think it fits this conversation.
For love is like light. When we are sitting with friends we do not think about the light that surrounds us but only of the friends that the light enables us to see. Likewise love illuminates others and so our attention is focused on what she (he or it) illuminates rather than with the illumination itself.
Love, in a very precise way, enables us to see.
Here is what love does. It does not make itself visible but rather makes others visible to us. Love does not exist but calls others into existence: for to exist means to stand forth from the background, to be brought into the foreground. Love does not stand forth but brings others forth. When we love our beloved is brought out of the vast, undulating sea of others. Just as the bible speaks of God calling forth beings from the formless ferment of being so love calls our beloved from the endless ocean of undifferentiated objects.
In this way love is not proud and arrogant. She does not say, “I am sublime, I am beautiful, I am glorious”. Love humbly points to another and whispers, “they are sublime, they are beautiful, they are glorious.” She does not tell us that they are perfect despite their weakness and frailty, but that they are perfect in the very midst of their weakness and frailty.
Love does not want our hymns of praise or prayers of adoration. She does not want our sacrifices or seek our time. One cannot and should not even try to love love. For love always points away from herself. To honor love is to be in love, to swim in the world illuminated by her.
The Reality love illuminates can be exponentialy pleasurable or devastatingly painful. As such we will always experience the one we love as the most sublime existence in the universe. This experience however hides within itself a deep truth, a truth that we would do well to forget as soon as we learn of it (for it works best in darkness). Namely, that the most sublime presence in the universe is not our beloved but the love that exposes them as our beloved. The love that stands beyond existence, raising our beloved to the level of existence.