The God Is Love Revolution

Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love... So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

God is Love

Those three words are found in two verses both from I John 4.

The whole of the Bible leads us to that three-worded creed that in many ways is the gospel – the good news – in a nutshell.

We should define what the Bible means by love here. So that’s how I begin this morning, defining the Love God is.

We spell the love God is A-G-A-P-E. It is not pronounced like we’d pronounce “agape,” as in open (e.g., “leave the door agape”). It is pronounced a-gah-pay.

C.S. Lewis states, Agape… is the kind [of love] God has for us and is good in all circumstances… Agape is all giving, not getting.”

Dr. Martin Luther King describes it this way: “Agape means understanding, redeeming good will for all... It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object…

Simply put, agape is a love that is unconditional, grace-filled, and limitless.

We can fuse the English word agape with the Greek word agape by saying agape love is the infinitely agape heart of God.

A couple points about the simple creed God is Love.

First, our simple creed that God is Love is unique to Christianity.

Non-Christian religions that posit a God, namely Judaism and Islam, point to God that is loving. Judaism and Islam would agree that God is loving. But the claim that God is love itself, that God and love are the same reality, that originates with Christianity and is unique to Christianity.

Non-Christian religions that posit some other kind of ultimate truth, an ultimate truth that is not personal like God is – I’m thinking of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, to name three -they may point to the importance of human compassion and lovingkindness. But the ultimate truth as love itself is not a thing. Buddhists, for example, assert that the ultimate, most essential truth is that all things are interdependent and interconnected. Buddhism would then say, humans, acknowledging our interdependence and interconnectedness, should live compassionately. This is different that saying God, the ultimate, most essential truth, is love.

Taoism comes close, saying God is akin to something like love. It claims the ultimate reality is Tao, translated “the Way.” Yet what Tao is exactly, that’s left undefined.

Christianity makes it clear. Love, the Way of Love, is the ultimate reality.

Again, no other religion makes the claim that God, the ultimate reality, the ultimate truth, is Love. Only Christianity claims that when everything else is whittled away, what we are left with is Love. We should be proud of this revolutionary truth and preach it loudly!

So, again, Love and God define one another. God defines love. And love defines God.

There’s no separation between God and love. So as Paul writes in Romans 8, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

The other point I’d like to discuss is a qualification you often hear added on to God is Love.

Often folks seek to qualify our revolutionary truth. Indeed, it is a hard thing to accept without qualification. That’s why we have faith. But folks want to add a “but” to God is Love. God is love, but… The biggest but you’ll hear is this: God is Love, but God is also just. Otherwise, God too soft, too accommodating, too lenient, not firm enough.  

However, the Bible is clear. God is love, period. God’s very essence is love. Love defines who God is. The Bible never says God is justice. It says God is Love… twice!

As for justice, which is profoundly important, love includes justice.

Psalms 25:8 says, “God is fair and just.” Using I John 4, we could say Love is fair and just.

As you know, Jesus’ preferred name for God is “father.” This to me is telling.

Think about a loving parent. I’ve known folks who’d say that their parent was so loving, so kind and caring that that parent was the epitome of love. You might hear them say, my mom was the personification of love. Would this mean that their mom never corrected them or disciplined them? Does this mean their mom let them do whatever they wanted all the time? No, their mom corrected, disciplined, created boundaries, like any good parent would do. But their mom still personified love. In fact, their mom personified love because she corrected, disciplined, set boundaries.

That is God. Father God is Love. Our loving, parental God corrects and sets boundaries. Our God is just, yet. But, our God is still love completely and without qualification.

That’s where the but belongs. God is just, but God is first and foremost love itself. God’s justice is built on the foundation that God is - Love

What is the takeaway as we ponder our simple creed of God is Love?

LILO is the answer. Love In, Love out. As Christians, the Love of God has entered our hearts. As Christians, we’ve taken into ourselves the love of God through the eternal life of Christ. As Christians, the Love of God resides with and within us, transforming our spirits.

From the inside, the Love of God overflows out. The Love of God overflows as our worship. The Love of God overflows as love for others, love for humanity, for all beings, and  for creation itself.

Hence, the Greatest Commandments which I paraphrase as a closing prayer for this meditation:

Teacher, what is the greatest thing we humans can do?”

We remember your reply. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest thing you can do. And the second is related to the first: Love your neighbor as yourself.’ We remember all things of God hang on these two mandates.”

May we let you’re the light of your Love in. May we live the light of your Love out and into the world. Amen.


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