How would you define true love? Is it emotions? a choice? A mix of the two? What about biblically speaking? What is love according to the Scriptures? In a recent interview, a top Christian recording artist made the claim that “true love is God.”
We are told in 1 John 4.8 that God is love. So, you may be thinking that we can say that phrase in reverse just as easily, right? As frustrating as it may be, proper semantics is actually extremely important to the message of Christianity. Here’s what I mean: the Bible supports the idea that God is love, that God is a lavishing God, a God that gives of himself incredibly to others. Here’s how the ESV Study Bible puts it:
John is not saying that God is only love (he has numerous other attributes), nor that love is God (a statement for which there is no scriptural support). “God is love” means that God continually gives of himself to others and seeks their benefit. There was eternal love between the persons of the Trinity even before the world was created (John 17:24), and God’s love is the ultimate source of any love that Christians are able to display (1 John 4:11, 12, 19).
And He manifests this love in the sending of His Son to die on the Cross for the sins of the world. This is the God who is love.
If love is god
Think about this for a moment. What if love was god? I imagine we would be very much in control of this god; a god who would depend on our decisions and emotions. This god would only ever be loving. There would be no judgment for sin, no condemnation, not even discipline, there would only ever be love, and a shallow love at that. There would also be no savior, because the need for one would be gone. If love is god, there is no wrath.
You may be tempted to like this god: “No judgment?” You think, “That would be great!” But think about it. Not only would you not face judgment and wrath, but there would be no punishment for the one who sinned against you either. And you could do incredible wrongs against this love, and get away with it! But our God is love and he has given of himself ever since he created the world. And what of our sin? He has lovingly placed it on His Son for our sake and given us His own righteousness out of that love.
If God is love, His wrath is directed towards His Son in the place of His people.