God is love.
That’s a statement most of us seem to take without much thought. But, what does that mean? It seems to stand in stark contrast to a God of judgment, justice and a world of evil.
Yet, straight from scripture we get these words:
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 him. (The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (1 Jn 4:16). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.)
I must admit, it all does seem a bit confusing. If God is love and I am even remotely tight with Him, then what’s the deal! Because I am not feeling the love.
As we see in most cases, I believe the confusion stems from bad definitions.
In this particular case, it’s not so much the definition of God, but the whacked-out definition of love we use.
My kiddos know that I love them, and that’s why they are baffled that I sometimes act like I do… A little activity I like to call parenting:
To them it makes absolutely no sense that we do not go to Chuck E Cheese every single day so long as there is money somewhere in the world.
To them it is asinine that we make them go to school when as parents we have the right to do what ever we want, whenever we want (you can stop snickering now parents).
To them going to work, cleaning the house and brushing our teeth are just silly wastes of time when we could be doing important (AKA fun) stuff.
Truth is if we let our kids run their lives the way they thought they should be run they would all be smelly, nasty, malnutritioned, ignoramuses, selfishly swirling around the drain of their own demise.
Hmmm…. I guess that sounds a lot like some of the adults we know, doesn’t it? Well, nothing we can do about them.
No, we often contradict what our kids think would be the loving thing to do for what we know is the right thing to do. But, just because it’s not fun, pleasant or preferential choice does that mean that it’s anything less than loving?
In fact, couldn’t it be that many of the things we do as parents that seem mean, difficult and totally lame (to quote a 1980s teenager) are actually more loving than the actions that are received with joy and to ease?
I think we have defined love too narrowly. Somehow we have made/defined love as an action that makes someone else feel loved. But, acts of love towards other people do not always cause the recipients to feel loved:
Two year-olds being unwillingly tucked into bed
Teenagers being issued an abbreviated curfew
Spouses being told what must happen if the marriage is going to work
Generally these things are not received as acts of love, but they are rather regarded as punishment, discipline and unfair treatment.
I think this is why we tend to misunderstand who God really is. God is love, but we’ve made love out to be something too narrow.
If God really loves us, then He is going to provide for us what we really need, and His love will not always be soft and fluffy bunny land!
Some of us need a God who is caring and compassionate to wrap his loving arms around us because we by nature are gentle and fragile.
Some of us need a God who will box us in and keep a tight rein on us because we are wild and spin out of control in an instant.
Some of us need a God who will thump us, hard, on the back of the head because we are thick and sermons, songs and church stuff would never get through to us in a million years.
Some of us need a God who will let us sleep in the bed we have made for a while, because if we are rescued every time will never quit acting stupid.
Each of the scenarios, and a million potential others, are a true display of love. But, each display is customized for the needs of that particular loved one and his/her Lover.
We often get confused as to why a loving God would let something happen, do something like He did, or seem to not be anywhere around. But the truth is, for a God who loves us, those could be some of the most loving moments of all.
When my Noah was just a year or two old he needed to have ear surgery and have a cyst removed from between his eyes. The week before the surgery I was a nervous wreck; worrying about any kind of complication, debating the necessity of the procedures and just flat freaking out, an activity in which I have a PhD.
The day of the surgery came and he was still so small that it was impossible to communicate to him what was happening. Because it was real surgery and not just a doctor’s visit, there came a point where we had to tell him “bye bye” and trust him to the doctors hands.
He was scared, drugged and crying … make that screaming as we left the room. I don’t know if I have ever had a much more difficult thing to do in this life than I did that day, walking out that door.
Why did I leave him scared, confused and crying out? Was it because the doctors said he wouldn’t get better without the surgery? Was it because the cyst would continue to grow without being removed?
The real reason Kathy and I walked out of that room was because we love that little boy more than life itself.
Hanging on to him, rescuing him from the moment and calming his fears would’ve only lead to later pain, hurt and suffering.
It was the most loving thing we could do.
So we went to a waiting room and cried for 45 minutes.
God is love. Much of what you’re going through is not so much a question of who God is and what He’s doing. It’s more a question of who you are, and what He has to do to love you as you are.
You are you, but God is love.