God is Love (1 John 4:8). But is Love God? This is an equation that confuses many. But an adjective cannot become a personality. It remains an adjective, understood in context of the personality that possesses it. By saying that Love is God, we use our own limited understanding of love to define who God is and limit Him. But, God, who is Love, enables us to understand what Love is, by what He does! This discussion is important because it is because of this confusion over what love is, that many are offended over God and His Christ. They think that a loving God will not judge or punish them, or that anything that seems like ‘love’ is good enough.
First of all, God is clear. His ways are not our ways. He doesn’t love as the world loves. The kind of love that we know of in the world is weak, selfish and vain. Love to many is about feeling, and usually, what feels good, whether it is right or wrong. But true love is not apart from justice, but is concerned with right and wrong. God, who is Love, must be fair, because He has the best interests of all and not just one (self), at heart. But worldly and romantic love, though pretending to be about two, is really usually about one, who cannot suffer wrong (or for long), even for the sake of the other that they claim to love! Yet, Christ, who was innocent, died for the wicked.
This is what the Bible has to say about love in 1 Corinthians 13: “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” (Vs 4-8).
This is how God showed His love… “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus showed His love this way… “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Real love is about sacrifice. Sacrifice is purposeful, but not all sacrifice is loving. People make sacrifices everyday, in the form of compromises. But the Bible teaches us that only what is done for God (and in obedience) will last (1 Cor 3:13-15).
There are many places in the world that people do all sorts of sacrifices for evil purposes. Usually, the sacrifices they make cost them nothing, but cost others!!! In some parts of Africa, people sacrifice innocent people to get favours from demons. This is to illustrate that the meaning of love and sacrifice can only be found in God. Like Paul said, we can give our whole body to be burned, but if we understand nothing about God’s love, then it was all vanity (1 Cor 13:3).
Likewise, there are many religions that speak of love and sacrifice. There are many teachers who teach wisdom, the importance of love and how to love. They may be great ‘lovers’ in the eyes of the world, but if they do not ultimately point you to Christ, then the source of their love is not God, and all is still vanity. What is the point of a love that cannot save you?
God will always point us to Christ, because that is His plan for our salvation. Christ is the Revelation of God’s Love. We cannot escape the teaching of the Bible that our works alone cannot save us, but we must have faith in the Holy One – “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).