Hey everyone, Tim here.
I hope this letter finds you well. If you've been following our new series "Undercover Boss" (catch up HERE), or really if you've just been around OG for anytime at all, you've heard the word "Love" a lot. I know I usually use this space to draw out some aspect of the past message and take a little different route, but as I was driving in my car today, I couldn't help thinking about God and Love.
We hear all the time that "God is love," which is a Christianease no-brainer, right? I mean it's right there in the Bible: God is Love! And we know this. And in case we didn't know this we're told it all the time. And in case that wasn't enough it's plastered on a thousand car rear windshields. God is Love: we get it. But do we really?
In my experience, we don't get it; I mean, not really. The reason why I think we misunderstand that God is love is because we associate God with love. Did you have to reread that statement? Did it make your head hurt? Yes, I meant exactly what I said: we associate God with love.
Forgive me if that still isn't clear. One of our major obstacles to truly understanding the nature of God is that we associate God with a bunch of words - love, grace, mercy, forgiveness - and so God ends up being defined by those words. The first problem with that is we have a terrible understanding of those words and what they mean. The second problem with that is those words could never define God because they are themselves limited by the very fact that they have a definition.
God has no definition. God cannot be defined or contained in any amount of words we can throw out. Words like love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness do not encapsulate God, in fact it's actually the reverse. God provides the definition for what love is, not the other way around. Our imperfect, partial and oscillating idea of what love is does not define how God acts in love. The very nature and essence of God is the definition for what love is.
To say that God is love is not the same as saying that whatever love is, that is what God is. To say that God is love is to say that whatever God is, that is what love is. The Biblical writers use four different words that we translate into English as love - philia, storge, eros, and agape. Storge means familiarity and comfort: used for something like how you love your grandma's house. Philia means love in the familial sense: like how you love your best friend or your sister. Eros means love in the erotic sense: I think you can figure this one out. Agape, however, means utter selfless giving of oneself: like how Jesus gave himself for us. That wasn't a weak, starry-eyed love. It was love in its' truest sense, selfless, giving, humble, perfect.
God really is love, but that is only because real love is God-like. Let's not paint God into a corner based on the limitations of words or our expectations of of a word based on our experience with it. God defines love, not the other way around. God is love.
1 John 4:16
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."