16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 1 John 4:16-17
So, John tells us, on one hand, we “know” the love that God has for us.
We understand it, we are familiar with it, we have studied it, we mentally comprehend it. We know that God loves us.
On the other hand, we are also supposed to “believe” it as well as know it.
We are supposed to let the truth that God loves us settle deep inside, to move from our heads to our hearts, to feel his love for us.
They are different, but they are both important. To only have one is to miss the supremacy of the next verse: that God is love.
I think it’s amazing that God takes a verb like love and makes it into his name, a proper noun. It is bold and daring, like someone who thinks that they are beautiful enough to change their first name to Beautiful. It’s audacious.
When I think of God as being Love, it hits me even deeper to think of him as Ultimate Love, because I see regular old boring love every day. But Ultimate Love?
That is Ultimate Patience, Ultimate Kindness, and Ultimate Self-Control. Ultimate Gentleness. With Ultimate Love, He is the Ultimate Father, Friend, and Counselor.
There is no capacity for love greater than God’s.
He is Love.
I want to think of this in a new way, in a story from John’s Gospel- a moment of God in action.
“Then Love, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Love said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Love, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Love said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of Love?” So they took away the stone. And Love lifted up his eyes and said, “Father Love, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, Love cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Love said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:38-44
When I pray about this idea, about God as Love, I feel like God is almost bent over, dying for us to understand how much he loves us, and what that means for us. My hope this week is that we would see the depth of God’s love for us in new ways, and that we would see Love as a person who cares for us beyond understanding.