People who might know nothing else of Christianity still know and like at least one thing: “God is love.” After all, who doesn’t think that’s a good idea?
But with the brilliant skill of a mathematician…
God is love
God = love
love = God
Love is god.
Are the two the same? Or does the statement lose all its weight when God and love become interchangeable x and y?
God is love. You start with the grand majesty and awesome power of the God of the universe. God is infinitely massive. His weight and glory lifts the second, love, into something equally weighty and glorious. Love becomes awe inspiring.
Love is god. You start with some feeling–a really nice feeling. It is not just like. It is love. It is the best humans have to offer, but it’s not quite human. It is more like superb human feelings and energy, or the best of human actions. It feels a bit…light, malleable, finite. Love’s finitude and pathos then lowers the second, god, into something equally finite and pathetic. God becomes created human energy.
These three words, “God is love,” communicate a mountain of joyous truth. But they cannot create a whole theology. In order to do so, man would need to look inside himself, pull out his love, and call that love God. But does man’s love define God? Or does God get to define love? If the second is true, then God defines what it means to be loving. Look at God and find out how to love; don’t look at man’s love and try to find a god.
If God defines love, then it might look different then we expect. It might be patient and jealous and compassionate and joyous and gentle and powerful and tender all in one. It might also have something in it that, from a human perspective, looks like hate.
But would take another post. For now my thought is simply that “God is love” cannot mean anything we want it to mean. Love is not the starting point. God is the starting point.