God is Love Does Not Mean ‘Love is God’

Yesterday we talked about God is love. He is love, at its fundamental essence. As we grow in knowing the God of the Bible, we grow in knowing love. He is the very definition of love. 

From the definition and understanding of ‘love’ as presented in the Bible, ‘God is love’ means that God is love personified. It means that we cannot properly understand love, or possess it, or love God and others, unless we understand it in terms of God – who He is, and what He has done. God’s love is manifested supremely in the giving of Christ as a sacrifice for sinners.  All true love will be consistent, in some way, with the love of God in Christ. It will be sacrificial, it will hurt, it will forgive sins, it will desire the best for the beloved, and it will care about the standard of holiness – God’s Law. But if we elevate love itself to the position of God, we have not only misunderstood love – we have misunderstood God as well.  

Now, on the other hand, a person who reads “God is love,” but inaccurately interprets it as “Love is god” is in a very different position. This person holds their personal definition of love above the God of the Bible. Their definition of love is treated as the concrete thing. God becomes fluid. 

I think this is how most people operate. They get their definition of love from the world: from friends, movies, music, books, and personal experience. Then they open the Bible and read it through that lens. Their idea of love is held with an iron grip. God is held loosely. 

If a particular passage of Scripture describes God in a way that fits their definition of love, they accept it. If, instead, it describes God in a way that seems unloving (to them) they ask, “How could a loving God say or do this?” Of course, when they say “loving God,” they mean a God who loves according to their definition of it. 

God is on the hot seat. Their definition of love is the judge. 

From this perspective, it becomes clear that a person who functionally believes that Love is god is operating in arrogance. The hidden assumption is that their definition of love is complete. God is expected to fit their bill – to conform to their limited understanding of what love is. 

In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on the importance of asking questions within Christianity. I think this is mostly good. This has primarily been encouraged by younger Christians who feel there is not a welcoming enough presence in the faith. They are not all wrong. 

Asking questions to better understand God so we may submit to Him is a wonderful thing. But I’m not so sure this is what most of them mean. I think they mean something quite different. I hear this from them: ‘What we’ve found in the Bible doesn’t sit well with us.’ So they essentially ask, “Can’t we make it mean something else?” 

Their own understanding of love, or freedom, or happiness is what drives them. That is their North Star. They have no interest in conforming themselves to the God of Scripture; they are far more interested in making adjustments to Him. 

God is love. He is the concrete reality from which love flows. He defines it. He is it. God is the sentient being; love is one of His qualities. To know love, we must know the God of the Bible. And if He seems to contradict our definition of love, we must revise our definition – not Him. 

Otherwise, let us be honest and just say, “Love, as I define it, is my god.” And, of course, worshiping something we can define is just another clever way of adoring the sovereign self. 

Thoughts developed or taken from an article written by Ryan McCoskey, Pastor, Wichita, KS 

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