Friday, October 24

If God is Love, Then What are We?..

Doing some thinking lately. Dangerous habit, done too much alone, so somebody help me out here, please. from where I'm sitting, it seems like there's a lot more to that bit from 1 John- "God is love," than what we tend to notice. If we think about God, outside of this space/time realm we occupy, and there was no space/time before He created it. Well, even saying "was" assumes time when there was (there I go again) none. So God wasn't "sovereign" before (?) He made anything to rule, but God is love, and that love means love to be given and received, in an eternity in which there is God, and nothing else. Father, Word, and Spirit, in eternal, radical, Selfless, love!

C.S. Lewis was reflecting the simple faith of his Irish homeland when he wrote in famous, The Four Loves, about the difference between a childish "need love" and a fully mature "gift love." From the first, though sure we in our own relationships always do have that "needy" aspect to our love, looking to be "completed," but God is absolutely complete in Himself, and He is totally Himself, totally love! Not limited to what we think of as love, but real, absolute, Selflessness in giving, total love is what God is all about.

So how do we fit into the picture? Because God needs us? Of course not! Does He crave to be told how wonderful He is? We have ideas of worldly kings who have to be stroked and flattered with smooth words and fancy dinners. After all, it's lonely at the top, they say. Is God lonely, weak, needy, insecure? He made us, this lavish planet around us, the vast reaches of space with all the different kinds of stars and planets, not to show off how grand He is, but to extend His love to us! Interestingly- Bishop Anselm, who first spelled out for us the whole "substitutionary atonement" plan, also said that even if Adam had never fallen, and Man had never sinned, Jesus would still have come as He did just out of His love for us.

A lot of Western theology has grown up around what seems like a view of need. We are told that God made the Universe because He needed company, or that our "chief end" is to "glorify God" like so many periwigged sycophants of Louis XIV because the bottom line is all about vindicating God's honor, or having somebody to show how great He is. In other words, we start off with a needy God, and He is then either moved out of the desire to prove his dominion in a reaction to human need to initiate the whole Incarnation- In other words, either Jesus came because God had something to prove, or else His coming was initiated by our sin. Does either option give us much of a picture of God? Who Is? (Self-giving) Love?

Could it be that God, first of all, is love, and that His being, total love, means total freedom to love. He created us in His Image, meaning that we would be free to love, a love that reflects His own. Even if that freedom meant the freedom to mess things up? After all, if there weren't freedom to turn left, would a right turn really be free? And, because of such vast love, He gives us the freedom to hate the mess we've made and even to repent from our bouts of stupidity and turn to Him!

Is God the Sovereign Lord of All? Of course He is, and greater than we could ever imagine imagining: But is it His plan to call us peasants, or dearly loved children?

1 John 3:1,2


  1. ...even if that freedom meant the freedom to mess things up?

    Good point. I think the Lord disciplines his children at times through the use and misuse of their freedom.

    The freedom to obey is always better than the freedom not to, but it is not always immediately obvious to persons.

    Excellent flames, Robert.

  2. Could we say that the grace-driven Gospel is more God-honoring than the all-too-common need-based view we hear so much of?

  3. Grace through faith yes, it is Biblical.

    There are all kinds of messed up views out there, sadly.

    We need to pray for our Biblical 'sanity' in a sense daily.

  4. Some kind soul managed to relieve my site of various pro-life links, so this video is offered in recognition of their sterling acts of tolerance.

    Sorry to see we need to stick together, there are many who choose to oppose us.

  5. Robert,

    So how do we fit into the picture? Because God needs us? Of course not! Does He crave to be told how wonderful He is? We have ideas of worldly kings who have to be stroked and flattered with smooth words and fancy dinners.

    It is good that you have addressed this issue, because some have accused God of being egotistical or needy or other things, which things are incorrect.

    I agree that God does not need us. If He did, then what did He do in eternity past before He created us? God exists as a Trinity anyway, and I do not believe that God gets lonely.

    Our purpose is to bring glory to God, but not because He is needy. It is more of a sense that we are things that He created, and it is our duty and responsibility to bring Him glory, I believe. We owe it to Him. He deserves to be glorified, because He is God. To do otherwise is sinful and is rebellion toward Him.

    I also believe that God is not only love. That is not His only characteristic. He is also just, holy, righteous, etc. And He is wrathful towards sin and sinners.

    I believe that Jesus came down as a rescue operation, and I believe that if there were no sin, there would not be a need for Jesus to die on the cross. However, if there were no sin, then God's relationship with man would never have been broken in the first place. Remember that, before Adam and Eve sinned, God walked with Adam in the garden.

    In C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters," the one thing that the demons could not understand is how God could love human beings, who were merely creations of His. Personally, I find it hard to comprehend how God could love something that He created, to the extent that He would even become one of His creations, and would die to save some of those creations. I mean, I would never die for some sculpture I made out of clay, and I can't even create the clay! So, in that sense, we are even farther removed from God than a piece of clay, or even an ant or an amoeba, is to us. Why? Because we cannot create clay or an ant or an amoeba; those things are beyond our ability to create from nothing. Yet, God created the entire universe from nothing, and then created us from clay (from something He had already created). So, in that sense, we are less compared to God than an amoeba is compared to us. From that perspective, I cannot comprehend God dying for human beings. And yet He did. Not only that, but His love for us is also incomprehensible; not because we are worth loving, but because God is the origin of love.

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  7. Jeff, I'm glad that is clear to you. It's scary to think of the close degree of separation we have sometimes between what the Lord is trying to show us and what we wind up settling with.

    One point I was trying to bring out is, and I think the language of 1 Jn 4:8 bears this out, is that the Apostle is saying that God is loving, lovable, or lovely, but that God is love. This is reflected in Jn 17 when Jesus prays, "glorify Thy Son" before the climax of His revelation of His Nature on the Cross.

    The very nature of God, which is expressed in His various aspects and characteristics, is love. We read in Galatians that the fruit (sing.) of the Spirit is (sing., agreeing with fruit) is love (also singular). What follows is a list of characteristics or outcomes of that love, as the very nature of God is produced in (not attached to) our lives. God's plan is not merely for us to "worship from afar," but to be partakers of all that He is- to actually participate in the flaming intensity of His eternal love in degrees we can not imagine. To woodenly recite the Westminster Confession reply to "what is the chief end of man?" is to assume that God may be pleased that we're somewhere in the building, by comparison, when what He wants is for us to be in His arms, on His lap, closer to His heart than anything. When we see this message in the texture of Romans 1-11, then chapter 8's "..will He not freely give us all things?" starts to kick in, and the act of love in 12:1,2 can be properly seen as "our reasonable service!

    Hallelujah, what a Savior!

  8. Hey, I hope studying is going very well, Doctor Robert.

    For a break and a laugh, check out my latest...


So what's your take?