God is love. We hear that a lot. And I think that’s absolutely true. God is love. However, I sometimes wonder if we are understanding the entire scope when we say things like that.
To say that “God is love” carries with it a rather distinct meaning from it’s inverse, “Love is God.” Those two things are not the same. This is very much unlike one of the mathematical theorems that says if a=b then b=a. There is a bit of difference between these concepts.
In the case of a=b, both letters represent numbers. Whatever the value for a or b, that value is what it is. What one item represents is exactly the same in every way as the other. This is not really the case with “God is love.” One cannot equivocate these two terms as one is not an exact representation of the other. Rather “love” is a single attribute of God and not comprehensively descriptive of His entire being.
It might be easier to think about this in somewhat less divine terms. Let’s think about a human being. Just an ordinary, normal human being. Let’s call this human being “Jack.” When discussing Jack, one might say “Jack is tall.” This does not mean that any human being who is tall must therefore be Jack. In addition to that, Jack may have other attributes as well. Jack may be blond, as well. Or perhaps bald.
The problem, basically, is that often times when we say “God is love” we can tend to think that it stops there. As if that is the only attribute that can describe God. We sometimes fail to recognize that God has other attributes as well. Justice, for example. God is a God of justice. He is a Good. He is powerful. He is eternal. He has many other attributes. Love is only one of them.
When we start to think of love as being His only attribute, we put ourselves in a position to have a very limited idea of who God is and hinder our ability to have a relationship with Him. It can lead to a kind of universalism, a “health & wealth” type of God or even cause a person to lose their faith altogether. After all, if we only know God as “love” and don’t recognize His attribute of justice, how do we reconcile the “Problem of Evil?”
If confronted with some of the tougher questions, our faith can be shaken. Instead, we have to realize that “love” is only one aspect of God. It is only one of many attributes that we can use to describe Him. And it’s a wonderful attribute, indeed. I love that He is love. But I recognize that He is much more than that.
How do you view God when thinking of Him as “love?” Do you find it difficult to understand God as being more than love?
Grace, love and peace.