“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8).
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16).
That old favorite hymn, “God is Love” takes up the refrain, exulting in and proclaiming the same eternal, overarching truth…
“Come, let us all unite to sing:
God is love!
Let Heav’n and earth their praises bring,
God is love!
Let every soul from sin awake,
Let every heart sweet music make,
And sing with us for Jesus’ sake:
God is love!”
Without the love of God, where would we be? It was through love that he created all things – including man. Love, by its very nature, cannot exist alone. Love must have an object – someone to love – or there would be no love. This, I believe, is why God created man. It was because of his love and for him to love us that we were made in his own image.
It was because of love that the earth with its beauty and suitability for human habitation was created. It was from his divine love that he provided Adam with a suitable companion to love and to be with him and to share their love with their family. It was God who desired and designed for man to live in loving fellowship with him and with others who love him.
It was man who failed to understand God’s love for him and sought to set himself up as his own god that has brought us into this world of sin, sorrow and death in which we presently live. It is man’s failure to grasp the wonders of God’s love that plunges humanity deeper and deeper into a miserable morass of immorality, creating one crisis after another, perpetuating man’s inhumanity to man and causing us to fight and war against one another. It is this same lack of love that sunders families. It is the same thing that turns the pure, wholesome love that builds families – the love that comes from God – into something grossly twisted and deformed in perverted, sensual, self-defeating self-centeredness. It has always been man’s refusal to share in God’s freely offered love that leads him to create his own gods – his own idols.
It is man’s deep need for knowing the love of God that creates in their hearts a longing that drives the never-ending search for happiness and fulfillment. It is because people do not look to him for what they truly need that they are engrossed with a never-ending search for acquiring things and experiencing thrills and pleasures that cannot possibly satisfy.
It was God, who because of his great love for man, even before he created us put into place a plan for man’s redemption – a plan to bring man back into his love and care. He, who loves us so much that he could not allow us to go into eternal ruin without doing everything divinely possible to rescue the race from the folly of our own doing. It was God who loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to die on the cross for our salvation. It is God who calls us to him in love through the “Wonderful Story of Love” that is the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It was the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, who because of his great love with which he loved us came from heaven, took the form of man and became a servant to the needs of man. It was this person, who because of his love, when he came to earth, lived among men as a man, was tempted just as every man is tempted who yet overcame to prepare himself to be a sacrifice of love in our behalf. It was he who demonstrated love in the greatest degree when he died on a cruel Roman cross in order that we be spared the death we deserve for our own sins. It is he who called – and yet calls men in his tender love – to come unto him for rest from the burdens of guilt and sin. It is he who in love reigns over all creation, patiently and lovingly bearing with us in our weaknesses, comforting our sorrows, healing our wounds and who waits to receive us into everlasting glory.
No, we would not have known love had it not been for the “Wonderful Love of Jesus.” We would not have known how to love our wives and husbands and children without having known the love of God for us. We would not have even known that we were supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves. We would not have experienced the holy love of brothers and sisters in the Lord had he not loved us first and shown us how to love one another.
So, how should we respond to his love? How does he expect us to respond. His first (greatest) commandment is this…
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deuteronomy 10:12).
When Jesus was asked, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” he answered,
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-30).
To love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength means that we love him with our total self. The one who has loved us so much deserves no less that our all. And it is not love for God if we do not include our neighbors in our love. Our neighbors, our families, our friends – even our enemies.
That is a tall order. It is not something that comes naturally. Love is something we learn. It is something we will to do. It is something we have to practice. It is something that will take a lifetime to learn and which, even after a lifetime, we will not have perfected.
The only way we can learn to love – the only “school” of love – is by experiencing the love of the one who is the source of love. By knowing God – really and truly know him – we know love. If we do not know love we do not know God. It’s as simple as that!
Enjoy that great old hymn: ” GOD IS LOVE “