In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. -- 1 John 4:9
Friday, November 21, 2014
What was it that led to the Place of the Skull? To scourging and a cold tomb? For that matter, why is there a creation at all? This same John answers over and over again, God loves. God loves the world. He loves His creation and His creatures. Just as often as most of us hear the answer, we stumble over it. We are baffled by it. What we call love as a feeling or an emotion is not the same. Love as a motivation is a stranger.
I remember the first time I heard someone say that love is an act of the will. I thought it was profound. Now I think it can be misleading. It’s still good because it moves us away from emotion. Some of the most loving acts a person does are done coolly. Jesus in the Garden, where all the emotion was on the side of wanting to avoid separation from the Father, where He sweat blood in the struggle to redeem us, when the soldiers came, steps up and says to Judas, “Friend, do what you came to do.” (Now tell me Jesus wasn’t the original cowboy.)
We might say that love gets the reins of our will. Love becomes our navigator. This is where we are. This is where we need to be. This is how we get there, given the conditions. The will follows those directions. Love might look like an act of the will in that case for we follow the set course. The will initiates actions in accordance with love.
Love, John tells us, is from God (v. 7). We do not originate it, create it, make it, or control it. God is love (vv.8,16) – a statement that always makes me a little uneasy. It must cause similar unease in others, too, because the commenters and Greek experts are always quick to assure us that John’s construction does not state equivalence. Love is a subset of God. Love is not God. God is light and in Him is no darkness. God is holy. God is truth. God is love. But in this love differs: the will of God is always on the course set by love. So, while God is not confined by the limits of our comprehension, we say, That is who God is.
How do we define love? This far exceeds anything I can do. We can describe the manifestations and say what it is not, as Paul does so eloquently across languages in First Corinthians 13, but a description is not a definition. Perhaps the defining of love is what the cosmos is all about, each of our lives a word, phrase, or sentence in the long, long book.
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25)