God IS Love!

God is love

God is love. This is a very true statement because the entire basis of Christianity is God’s love for man and His willingness to forgive by grace, all the sins of the world. It is why Christ died on the cross.

Yet, love is not necessarily understood in terms of it’s importance or impact on the everyday lives of people. We throw the phrase around like it’s a punchline. “Oh, God is love,” we say it because it sounds good. But God’s love goes so much beyond that.

Consider the writings of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. We love as a key component to our relationship with God and each other. It is explained in Chapter 13.

Paul defines what love is

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.

When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

Do we really practice or understand love?

The wisdom of Paul’s assertions been taught, debated, argued and misunderstood for centuries. We say these things, and it all sounds nice, but at a practical, every day level, are they practiced? Platitudes? Meaningless phrases?

Driven by love, God’s grace, even more than His ability to create a universe just by speaking, is the ultimate power that changes the human heart. It transforms us into the likeness of Christ and that rebuilds all that has been destroyed.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Jesus shares God’s love

These are the words shared by Jesus with the pharisee Nicodemus. Jesus was showing “Israel’s teacher” that he had missed the point of the Old Testament writings by focusing on the law and not on the love behind the law.

Without the love of God and the acceptance of His grace and salvation through faith, we are spiritually dead. Love brings life. Those who accept the Gospel, God’s good news, are brought to life and eternal love of the Father.

Think of the power of God’s love. It completely overcomes the evil of the world, and in time, we will all this this unfold. Jesus said, “love your neighbor as yourself.” True enough. It is the answer to all of man’s problems.

Love in the Bible

God is love

God is love. So often quoted, said with casual certainty, this three-word statement is so much more. Biblical love, God’s love, goes beyond human understanding of the word.

Men and women use the word interchangeably to mean “like,” or “desire.” One might say “I love music,” treating music as an object of affection. Or they say “I love food,” when talking about a delicious meal.

But the word “love” most always is devalued when people use it to describe attraction, or preference. The word “love” becomes a figure of speech, a hollow, meaningless term of endearment.

What does Love in the Bible mean?

Biblical “love” is entirely different, because in order to understand love in the Bible, one must see the world the way God sees the world. Because we are human, that’s very difficult, if not impossible, but we are able to grasp a portion of its full meaning.

Imagine love as a deep, unshakable, never-ending, absolute and consuming desire for something. God desires our love and companionship. Then imagine that He will spare nothing to achieve a perfect relationship, even when we turn away and mock Him.

In John 3:16, Jesus tells Rabbi Nicodemus:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Greek words for LOVE

The New Testament highlights three of the Greek words for love, Eros, Philos and Agape. Eros, from which we get the word erotic, is a physical or emotional attraction. Therefore, it is the kind of love a man and woman have in marriage.

Philos is “brotherly” love. We regard Philadelphia as the city of brotherly love. It suggests comradeship, friendship, loyalty.

Agape is an absolute and unquestioning love, the kind of love that God has for people. The late psychotherapist Carl Rogers termed it “unconditional positive regard” in his writings.

Love in the Bible: Jesus questions Peter about LOVE

In the Gospel of John, Jesus has three questions for Peter after dinner. Peter was the disciple who had rejected Jesus three times during the trial after Jesus was arrested. But it was Peter who Jesus selected to lead the new church. The conversation begins in John 21:15:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love (eros) me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love (philos) me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him:

Simon son of John, do you love (agape) me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.””

Three meanings for LOVE are clarified

You can see that there are three different meanings to His questions. First He asks, are you attracted to me and my message? Then He follows with are we friends/brothers? Finally He finishes with do you love me above all things, all others?

We are commanded to love God in Deuteronomy 6:5:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

LOVE God with ALL of your heart

Jesus would offer an updated version in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus replied:

“‘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 commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

For more on God is LOVE, below is an excellent sermon: Understanding God’s Love by Tony Evans.