My wife, Jackie, is leading a small group tonight on the theme ‘God is Love’. Recognizing my Biblical knowledge and profound teaching experience (well I can dream) she asked me if I had any good material. So I looked through my preaching and teaching files to pull something out for her to have a look at. To my huge surprise I discovered I didn’t have anything! To be sure, the theme was present in all sorts of ways, plenty on God loving us and more than a little on encouraging our love for God. But on the nature of God as Love - very little. Something that I will have to redress.
The last 3 words of 1 John 4v8 form one of the most profound statements of the whole Bible and perhaps for many people today one of the hardest to believe. ‘God is love’. When we think of this 'grubby tennis ball' of a planet, set in the vast infinity of space, our own lives as just moments in the onward surge of time, and our individuality among countless millions, can we really talk meaningfully about God loving us? And when we look at the world with all its evil and suffering, so many damaged and broken lives, how can there be a God who really loves us? Yet, John insists, this is the very nature of God. And if we are not to empty the word 'God' of all its meaning, we must realise that such an infinite yet personal Creator is not too great to be bothered with my tiny life. He is so great that he can be bothered with each of us individually. John is not identifying a quality which God possesses; he is making a statement about the essence of God's being. It is not simply that God loves, but that He is love. Focussing on who he is enables to believe what he does. And so though of course I want to say to you, ‘God Loves you’. But maybe it is even better to say to you ‘God is Love’!