As I wrote out the topics that have been on my mind in my last post, the subject of God being only love has been swirling around for awhile. What I didn't realize is how tricky this subject is for me and many others. I began writing and immediately felt stuck. I had to think on it and sit with it and discuss it with my biblically-sexy husband. I even discussed it around the table with some Bible nerds. I really wish I was writing about something else, like the art of sexting but as I have been praying and asking (begging) the Lord for help, I remembered that I am called to be a truth-teller and so here are my thoughts on a really tricky subject.
I have been hearing a lot lately that God is only love. It sure sounds good and taken at face value, it seems right. I think what bothers me about this statement is that people often say it in the context that because God is only love, there must be no judgment. I often see the context as permission to do whatever we want to do because after all, God is only love. The reason this subject is tricky is because I believe that everything God does is motivated by love. Yet, I have issues with the statement that He is only love because it makes Him seem like a big, comfy pillow in the sky, without a backbone. I also think it short-changes His vast and rich character. And in the Bible, I see much more to God than meets the eye. Many might be thinking that the Old Testament God really needed Jesus to come and soften Him up and consequently, Jesus is only love. I don't see it that way at all. Jesus came as God in the flesh and He is the perfect extension of the Father. They are one!
|Pentax ME, Fuji 200 film|
What are the other aspects of God's character I am thinking about here?
- His holiness
- His justice
- His wrath
- His truth
- His judgment
- His wisdom
- His compassion (okay, this one is close to love *wink*)
(There are so many more aspects to HIs character, this list doesn't even begin to cover it.)
As I said, I believe everything God does is motivated by love. In thinking about His holiness, it is so pure and clean and apart from us. God is not like us (we are like Him, not the other way around), He is wholly different and does not think the same way we think. When characters in the Bible came face to face with His holiness, they were terrified and fell as though dead. Loving, much?
His justice. God is the most Just being in all the universe. His justice is always loving and His love is just. Did the people of Israel see it that way when He exiled their butts right out of their Promised land? I doubt it.
God's wrath? A side note here. Get a British person to pronounce "wrath" for you. It's delectable. Where was I? Oh yes, His wrath. I don't hear many sermons on His wrath, probably because no one, not even me, likes to think about it, much less talk about it. And it is NOT politically correct. But it's a very real part of His character. I don't think we should focus only on His wrath anymore than we should focus only on love. It just puts us out of balance. I have wrestled with this part of His character. I still don't like it but I certainly accept it.
His judgment. Yes, I am going to wade in here. I do not believe it is our place to judge anyone. Jesus is our Judge and He is the only adequate Judge because He is without sin. Spoiler Alert: There is a final judgment coming. It's pretty clear in the Bible. Why do we think that because there is judgment, there is an absence of Love? This is the struggle, yes? Can we hold both? His judgment is loving and His love judges.
I could go on and on and I am sure some of you are wishing I would quit while I am ahead but I would like to tell how I came to realize God is much more in my own life.
I had a period of my life where I believed God was only love and didn't really care what I did. But something kept nagging at me. I wasn't at peace with this belief. I began to see that I was out of balance. God does indeed care what I do! If I am a follower of Christ, then I need to live like it. Since then, I've been disciplined by the Lord more times than I can count. Convicted. Stopped in my tracks. Busted. Laid low. Pride, jealousy, pride, rage, gluttony, pride, lack of love, judgment, etc. It's all been very loving but it certainly hasn't felt like it. And maybe that's my issue. His love doesn't always feel like love. God does not allow me to get away with anything. His conviction is painful and His discipline sucks. Having a relationship with Him is a lot like being parented. By the Most Strict and Loving Parent ever. However, I realized deep in my heart that I needed Someone to be this for me. Someone to be holy so I could see how not holy I was. Someone to be just in His ways because I am not so just in my ways. Someone to be truthful because I am a flippin' liar. Someone to have wrath because there is evil in the world and someone needs to get upset about it. And God is the only Being on the Planet who can do all of this because He is motivated by love. I repeat, I do believe God is the most Loving Being on the planet. Let's just make sure we are looking at all the aspects of His rich and vast character, even the aspects we are uncomfortable with or do not like. The one thing I love about God is that I can come to Him with the things that disturb me, whether in His word or even that I am wrestling with so I challenge my readers to do the same.
I hope you've heard my heart. I'd love to hear your thoughts and even if you disagree, let me know! I love having open conversations about tricky subjects. (more *winking*)
What do you think about the statement God is only love?
Labels: "motivated by love", compassion, God, holiness, justice, love, tricky, truth, wisdom, wrath