I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means that God is love. It’s a phrase that you hear frequently and yet, I think that we often interpret it to mean, “God shows love”. We look at the things that God has done, sending His Son being the paramount example, and we think “oh yes, that shows God’s love.” Although God does show love, that’s different from saying that He is love. He is love means that He’s everything that love is. He’s just, because love is just. He’s kind because love is kind. He’s gracious because love is gracious. He’s the absence of fear because love obliterates it. He is everything that love is, because He is love.
Sometimes though we want God without wanting all that love demands. God sounds good to us as long as we relegate Him to the Person that we turn to when the world isn’t working out the way we want. God seems like a good idea until we realize what love is. Love requires justice for wrong, but often we want to avoid that pain. Love requires sacrifice, but we strive for an easy life. Love requires involvement, but we don’t want to participate. We want a safe God, but love is never safe.
C.S. Lewis was famous for making this point. In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” little Lucy wonders whether Aslan, the Christ-figure, is safe. She is told that he’s not safe but he is good. Later, in “The Silver Chair” another little girl approaches Aslan and discovers the same lesson. To quench her thirst she must approach the river. Her pathway is blocked by the Lion, and she too, must learn that to get what she needs sometimes requires progress into dangerous territory. Dangerous not because of what may be taken from her, but what she may required to give. Love demands that, because love requires risk.
To say that God is love means that all that we can learn about love we can learn from God. He, quite literally, is its personification. Maybe if we believed that a little more it would change our view of God. And our view of love.