God is more than Love

God is more than Love

I suppose it may not be a very popular idea to de-emphasize love on a day dedicated to celebrating love, but I will anyway. Primarily because our culture has defined love for itself and then transposed that onto its understanding of God’s love. Honestly, it’s quite fascinating that our culture is so infatuated with love considering how its been devalued and separated from its Creator. We’ve reduced the notion of love to a fleeting feeling of affection that only exists when it provides self-satisfaction and affirms our self-imposed identities.

Yet God’s love is so much more because He is so much more than our definition of love.

I did just a quick word look up in a concordance and found love to be mentioned in the Bible about 440 times. I also looked up forms of justice (176), judge (727), righteousness (540), faith (347), mercy (357) and holy (611).

Again, I bring this up because we have a propensity to emphasize love as the primary defining characteristic of God and He rightly is our basis for understanding love. However, it is from His perfect, unfailing love that also extends His justice, righteousness, mercy, and holiness. I get it, these aren’t going to be popular modern concepts. Why? Because they allude to a moral system that clearly outlines good and evil (what is just and unjust).

There is plenty to say on why humans reject the authoritative and just moral system from God, but let’s focus instead on how wonderful all the characteristics of our sovereign God are. God is unchanging, faithful, merciful, righteous, holy, loving, and the judge of the world. All of scripture testifies to the eternal justice of God, when all evil will be punished and the righteous will enjoy His presence forever. (Rev. 20-22)

Now, we can either declare this eternal view of justice as loving or unloving. Indeed, if you come from a secular approach, it sounds incredibly unloving. When you deny moral absolutes and equate holding a moral absolute as a judgement and not loving a person, it is hard to fully comprehend God’s true version of love. Here is what scripture teaches is love, though:

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

In the storyline of scripture, we see that God created a perfect world and outlined for us how to live in justice, righteousness and holiness (Micah 6:8). Is it loving to mankind for God to allow injustice and wrongness to be unpunished? Deep down all of humankind wants injustice punished, we are just arguing over what injustice is.

But when grace is shown to the wicked,
    they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
    and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.

Isaiah 26:10

 Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness

Hebrews 12:9-10

Indeed, the most loving thing our Father ever could have done for us is, in his mercy, send His son to pay the price of our judgment and allow us to be welcomed back as His children to forever be filled with the Holy Spirit and receive the eternal reward of life. The only justice we’ve ever deserved was eternal punishment and death. In this view, we realize how much love and mercy we have received, we weren’t left to die in our sin but saved for eternal glory.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Is my end argument here to observe how great and unfailing the Father’s love is? A little bit, but primarily it is that we can’t understand how great His love is until we fully understand that God is more than love. His is our perfect standard of justice, righteousness, faithfulness, mercy, and holiness. Without these defining characteristics of God, we can’t have true love. We won’t fully understand God’s love and we won’t ever understand passages like 1 John 3 or Romans 9 or Revelation 20 and we won’t understand how to be imitators of God’s love.

We can’t allow God’s definitions of justice, righteousness, and holiness to be discarded because we don’t like His standard and then separate out love, redefine it to human emotions and act like that’s all God is. He is love because His is just and right and merciful and faithful and holy. God is so much more than love and that is why He is love.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *