God is Love

0101. God is Love

Introduction of Our Relationship with God

In any relationship, we need to identify the parties involved first. Therefore, we need to define both God and ourselves, before we can address the need to come closer to God. In this article, we will tackle the task of defining God.

Defining God

So where do we begin to even attempt to define God? Do we start with a generic definition from the dictionary? Or do we define him by today’s cultural standards? It is quite a difficult endeavor to put into words who and what exactly God is. Part of the problem is our own experiences, or lack thereof, with God. However, the best place to start would be our most timeless resource: the Bible.

So who exactly is God? God, as defined by the Bible, is the creator of the universe and everything in it, including ourselves. He exists outside of our natural perceptions, yet is able to interact with us on many different levels. Imagine we are playing one of those popular city simulation video games. We can create or flatten whole mountains, or plant one single tree or structure. However, the computer inhabitants in the simulation have no idea we are manipulating their environment and go about their business according to the computer algorithms they are programmed with. Now imagine God in charge of a much more infinitely complex program called the universe, and we have a somewhat limited idea of who he is.

Now that we have some idea of who he is, how about the what? Here, we need to rely on the Bible to provide a basis for his nature. The Bible defines his nature as many things, such as constant (Malachi 3:6), timeless (Revelation 1:8), all understanding (Psalm 147:5), omniscient (Proverbs 15:3), omnipotent (Matthew 19:26), and omnipresent (Psalm 33:11). These are quite big concepts, and we will cover these definitions in future articles. However, the most important aspect of God’s nature is defined in 1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16 (NIV):

  • Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
  • 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.

There is no other instance in history where someone or something has been defined as the embodiment of an entire emotion or sentiment, such as love. This speaks volumes to what God’s true nature is, and we will examine how this nature manifests itself in our world today.

The Love Equation

In mathematics, equations are used to define facts. For example, the most used equation is probably 1 + 1 = 2. If we were to convert this to ordinary English, we would say one plus one is two. Notice the fact that the word “is” can be substituted for the word “equals”, and nothing about the fact changes. The other thing is that if another equation has the same outcome, then parts of the equation can be interchanged and nothing changes. For example, we could also write the following equation, 5 – 3 = 2. Both equations have an outcome of 2. Therefore by substitution, we can write the following equation: 5 – 3 = 1 + 1.

So let’s return to our original statement: God is love. If we were to write this statement as a mathematical equation, it would look like this:

God is Love Equation

As stated earlier, equations are used to define facts. Therefore, by writing the equation above, we are proposing that this is a fact. Can this fact be proven or disproven? If the equation is wrong, then the Bible is wrong, and a fundamental basis for Christianity falls apart. So we must find support and justification for this equation.

Substitution in the Bible

So how does the Bible define love? The most important verses are probably 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV): “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

So if this is the biblical definition of love, what if we were to replace each instance of the word “love” with the word “God”, and the word “it” with the word “he”? The passage now reads: “God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Does this substitution make sense? It seems that way. However, it should make sense that God and love are equal, otherwise the Bible would have some major consistency issues. A larger challenge would be trying to apply this equation substitution outside of the Bible.

Substitution in Music

In 1985, Amy Grant, a Christian musical artist, crossed over onto the pop music charts with the song, Find a Way:

The chorus of the song is as follows:

Love will find a way
Love will find a way
I know it’s hard to see the past and still believe
Love is gonna find a way
I know that
Love will find a way
Love can make a way
Leave behind the doubt
Love’s the only out
Love will surely find a way

If we were to do the same substitution to the chorus as we did to the Bible, the chorus would now be:

God will find a way
God will find a way
I know it’s hard to see the past and still believe
God is gonna find a way
I know that
God will find a way
God can make a way
Leave behind the doubt
God’s the only out
God will surely find a way

We find that the substitution makes sense once again. But then again, since Amy Grant is a Christian artist, she would make the lyrics consistent with the Bible. So how about a non-Christian song?

In 2014, Jana Kramer, a country music artist, hit the country charts with the song, Love:

The chorus of the song is as follows:

Love, how many times can a heart break?
Love, how much weight can a soul take?
Love, I don’t know where you ran off to
But love, love, love, I still believe in you.

If we were to do the same substitution to the chorus again, the chorus would now be:

God, how many times can a heart break?
God, how much weight can a soul take?
God, I don’t know where you ran off to
But God, God, God, I still believe in you.

We find that the substitution pattern still holds. How about one more example, but this time a more controversial song?

In 2011, Rihanna topped the music charts with the song, We Found Love:

This song had absolutely nothing to do with religion and the video is quite racy. However, the chorus of the song consists of one line repeated over and over again: “We found love in a hopeless place”. If we were to do the same substitution to the chorus again, the chorus would now be: “We found God in a hopeless place”.

The substitution in this song is even more meaningful, for many of us today tend to call on God only when our situation seems hopeless. So even when there was no intention of using the word “love” in a religious context, the substitution pattern still makes sense. The equation substitution goes well beyond music lyrics, and can be applied to other aspects of our culture. You are encouraged to try this substitution out on how you perceive and use the word “love” in your life. You might be surprised by the results.

A Love-Omitted Culture

Unfortunately, while we have been examining the positive aspects of God and love, equations are neutral and can be used in both positive and/or negative contexts. In other words, our equation is a double-edged sword. And nothing can drive this point home more than with the following statement: A culture that omits God is a culture that omits love.

For the last generation, we have pushed God out of American culture. Once common sites such as the Ten Commandments in courts, and Nativity scenes, are no longer seen and are in some cases illegal. Let’s face it, we live in a God-omitted culture today. However, if our equation holds true, that means we also live in a love-omitted culture as well.

In the 1960’s, hippies called for peace and love. So do we see this culture of love anymore? No, it seems culture and politics are more divisive than ever. Battle lines are immediately drawn on both sides whenever a new policy is introduced. Violence of all sorts is on the rise. Divorces are at record levels. And depression is one of the major issues in society today. To quote the 2003 Black-Eyed Peas song title: “Where is the Love“. The problem is there is an entire generation of Americans who were not taught to love. Oh sure, we know how to surf the web and shop online. We have all the drugs and substances to alleviate our ailments and forget our troubles. We can play online games all day, and learn how to destroy everything in combat-type games. However, we have forgotten how to love.

So is this directly related to God being omitted from our culture? John 13:34 (CSB) says: “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” But if few read the Bible anymore, then how would anybody learn this lesson? Think about the last time you saw a leader demonstrate love in public. Difficult, isn’t it? Their handlers have probably told them love is a sign of weakness, and only strength can be shown. Sure, we see messages like “stop hate” or “be kind”. But this is not the same. After all, the equation is not “God = stop hate”. In fact, in Luke 6:27-28 (CSB), Jesus commands us: “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” This is contrary to the cultural message today. Therefore, unless we see a resurgence of the presence of God in our culture, then we will continue to see the issues that plague our society today, as the absence of love will not result in any long-lasting solutions.

The Search

One of the most common quotes about love is that all humans just desire “to love and be loved.” Yet if that is all we are searching for, how successful will we be looking for it in a culture that omits love? Perhaps that is the root of our cultural problems we see today. In 1980, Johnny Lee hit the country charts with the following song, Lookin’ for Love:

Is it possible we are looking for love in all the wrong places as well? We will sacrifice our time, our money and even our ethics, but to what end? Wealth, power, and influence? Stating the obvious, to quote the 1987 REO Speedwagon song title: “That Ain’t Love“. But if we are truly looking for love, then shouldn’t we be looking for God instead? If this seems like a simple answer, it is, because the equation is simple. For God is love, and that’s a fact. So search for God, and you will find love.

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