God is love.
Love is god.
Look at those two short sentences closely. Take a minute to do so.
I believe the juxtaposition of those two statements summarizes the fraying taking place within the broader Christian community. The implications of this are quietly, perhaps invisibly, enormous. Journey with me on this musing.
When God’s Word says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8), it’s NOT saying there is this thing out there called ‘love’ and God measures up to it. There is no external, standard of love to which God is accountable. God himself provides the essence and definition of love. So, if it was possible, dictionary writers ought to study God first then provide their definition of ‘love.’
But this is not how things are done in the “real world.” Rather, we human beings possess a perpetual drift towards self-declaration. The result is autonomous definition writing. We come up with our own understanding of things and pronounce them good or bad. This is one of the many consequences of the Eden travesty.
Such is the case with the concept of ‘love.’ Once we’ve put a period on the end of our definitional sentence, we are then positioned to say things like, “As long as they aren’t hurting anyone, we should accept…” Or “If God is loving, then surely he wouldn’t…”
But notice what is happening. We have our definition of love and we are holding God accountable to it. Love, our concept of it, has become god.
The remedy to this gross distortion is simple: we need to go before the God of the universe and ask him to tell us what he is like. We need to ask him to define love for us. His answer may surprise us.