Do you realize how unusual God’s love is? If I could really hold this in the depths of my soul, I would be a joy-filled person. This is it: God loves naturally.
Here is what I mean. You and I can be good and loving, in our better moments. According to scripture we can even share in the goodness of God (I Peter 1:16). But for us goodness is something we occasionally attain to, something we arrive at inch by inch as God’s grace empowers us through decades of repentance and sanctification. But all along, we can easily not be good. Goodness is never natural to us, at least in this life.
What is natural to us? Being human. We don’t have to strive to be human. Nobody grits their teeth and determines to be a human today rather than a sofa. That’s ridiculous because we are just human naturally We can’t not be human.
But that is love in God’s life! Just like you are human, God is love. God does not try to love. He does not need to remind himself to choose goodness. He does not deliberate about what a loving path might be today. If God were not loving he would cease to be God.
For this reason, it is not so much that God has love. Rather, God is love. Love is not some attitude he adopts depending on the situation. God simply is love. Love is what constitutes his inner being. Love is his life and breath. To put it crassly, love is what God is made of.
It should not be said that on some occasions God is more loving and on others more just or righteous. For God to be love by nature means that at every moment God’s love is infinitely actualized. God’s love is always full-speed, pedal to the metal, completely activated, fully operating at every moment in God’s life. There is no potential in God to love more.
Knowing this truth in a deep and experiential way makes us joyful people who are capable of incredible suffering for the sake of love. What you believe ultimate reality truly consists of will set your posture toward life. If I am greedy, grasping and anxious, it’s because I must believe that deep down God is a stingy miser. I must believe that God may be loving in some parts of his being, but in other parts, who knows?
But according to the scriptures, we live suspended in the ocean of love that is God (Ephesians 3:17-19). We are held by the God whose name is Love. Whatever he will do to the end of our days, even what he does behind the scenes that no one ever knows, will always be the full-speed action of infinite love. This is just God doing what comes naturally.
And we should never qualify or balance the love of God with some other apparently less loving quality. Sure, God is righteous and hates evil. But that is not in tension with the love of God. Anger is the form God’s natural love takes when his love is blocked and threatened by hatred and evil, either human or angelic. God’s anger is pedal to the metal love.
When we say God is love, let us never, ever, ever follow by saying “Yes, but on the other hand God is…”
Inspired by a wonderful sermon on God’s character I heard recently by Ernie Koop at the Steinbach EFC.
Layton has served as youth pastor at Crestview Fellowship, lead pastor at Fort Garry EMC, and as Conference Pastor of the EMC Conference. He is also an accomplished author. He is married to Glenda, and they have two adult children. Together they live in Winnipeg, Manitoba and attend the Fort Garry EMC Church.
Originally published in The Recorder Vol 60 no. 3