Love is one of God’s best known attributes. It’s also one of the least understood. And most abused.
**Part of The Nature of God series.**
Love is one of God’s best known attributes. It’s also one of the least understood.
And most abused.
What we do know is His love is flawless, strong as death.
It never fails. It disciplines. It casts out fear.
And it demands something in return most of us–including me–are not willing to give.
The First Thing You Should Know About God’s Love
In his book , the 19th Century Danish philosopher, wrote about three types of human experience: the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious.
It is the religious that Kierkegaard champions–the individual who transcends himself by loving God.
“He who loved himself became great in himself, and he who loved others became great through his devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all.”
Loving God, however, is a difficult thing. Especially for a cranky guy like me. [Or Kiergegaard for that matter.]
I eye any kind of love with sucpision. Cringe at the sappiest sermons. Grit my teeth when someone hugs me.
Furthermore, I hold grudges against my wife. I drop friends at the least sniff of rejection. I tell mom I love her when she’s nice to me.
Our love is flawed, defective, conditional. God’s however, is pure, perfect and unconditional. And it .
So, the first thing you should know about God’s love is that it’s nothing like our love. Thank God.
What Does ”God Is Love” Mean ?
What is God’s love like then?
When we say “” we mean that love is something true of God. Just like holiness, justice, faithfulness, wrath and mercy are true of God.
If we’re suggesting God is literally love, however, we’ve got a problem. Here’s what I mean.
God exercises wrath and mercy. But He’s not wrath or mercy. To stress any one of these over another leads us down a path we shouldn’t go: idolatry. Bad stuff.
The truth is the love which he shows to humanity is a revelation of his own inner being. It’s who–not what–He is.
The Strange, Beautiful Quirk of God
So, why is God they way He is? Well, God’s love is boundless, unchanging and permanent because of the other things that are true about him.
- His love inclines Him to desire your everlasting welfare and His sovereignty enables him to secure it.
- His love had no beginning because . He always loved you.
- His love can have no end because .
- in his essence and He is love, so he is infinite in his love.
- God is a personal god. But . He’s sufficient in himself.
Now, that last essence is a happy little trait of the free God–He loves us even though He doesn’t need us.
Why? Because He has allowed His heart to be attracted to man. He has allowed Himself to be emotionally identified with you and me–wretches. Crumedgeons. Cranks.
God’s Lust for Sinners
Of course, God’s love for us begs the question: why us? In the simplest terms, God loves us because he chose to love us.
See, He’s a personal God who, unlike Roman gods who lusted after women, lusts after sinners.
Who exactly are the objects of God’s love? Thinking people who’ve broken God’s law. People who are corrupt in God’s sight. And people who merit only condemnation and banishment from his presence.
We certainly didn’t do anything to . His love is a free gift, an impeccable demonstration of his power and sacrifice.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
See, God’s love is an exercise of his goodness toward individual sinners. In fact, his death on the cross is the crowning proof of that reality.
What God’s Love Demands of Us
Remember: John the Apostle wrote that “God is love” to make an ethical point:
Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Therefore, our response to God’s love is to love others. That’s what we have to give back–even if we don’t want to.
Here’s the deal: When we’ve been born again, we will want to love our brothers. That’s one way to demonstrate you are a true Christian.
Why God Doesn’t Desire Every Man to Be Saved
Now, if God can accomplish whatever He desires because He is all-powerful, and if and , then doesn’t it follow that God wishes all men to be saved?
No. Salvation involves participation. Either the free will is for or against God.
Those against God– is to reconcile with them–aren’t in a condition to repent. And God cannot force someone to freely love him.
Imagine or in heaven railing against God. What part of that seems realistic?
Can we still speak of God’s love toward Dawkins when Dawkin’s warped mind is encased in a glorified body?
It would be a prison to him and a hell to us.
An omnibenevolent God will only do what is moral. And it’s immoral to force moral beings against their will.
The Most Persuasive Argument for God
On the other hand, an all powerful, all loving God would eliminate evil. But there is evil. So either God is weak, malicious or entirely absent.
Most atheists, , opt for “entirely absent.”
But there is another alternative that reconciles the existence of evil with an omnipotent, omnibenevlent God: Evil will one day be defeated.
Since God is all knowing, He sees past, present and future now, and in His power he can predetermine to eliminate evil in the future.
When He does it is beyond knowing. We can only be .
In fact, it turns out that the problem of evil is in fact one of the more .
The love of God is free, unprovoked, uncaused. It is not an erratic, fickle thing, as my love is. Or yours. Nor is it mere impotent longing for things that may never be–like Kierkegaard’s.
We can .
In the end, His love demands we not only love Him, but we love each other as well. Sacrificially.
I can’t imagine what I would be like if not for God’s love. What about you?