Main Point from Scripture: God is love. God not only acts out of love, or is loving by nature…God IS love. All the Love we experience in the world is God. Love cannot exist apart from God. God is the literal foundation and source of all love and goodness in the world – an understanding of God that is full of hope, freedom, and transformative grace.
- “God is Love” is still a broad and open ended statement. But instead of trying to explain the intimate details of God’s innerworkings, we just know the statement to be true.
- In this way, we hold true to one of the hallmarks of Methodism: embracing mystery.
- During John Wesley’s time, the church was wrapped up in the Trinitarian controversies – intense doctrinal arguments regarding the nature of the Trinity. What is the exact relationship between God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit? How do they co-exist and work together?
- John Wesley gave a fresh and welcome perspective – we don’t have to know every detail about the Trinity because we experience it to be true. Let God be God – embrace mystery.
- The same can be said about the statement “God is love.” We don’t have to explain, understand, or know how/why it works. We simply experience it to be true.
- By experience, John Wesley didn’t mean common everyday experiences. He was referring to experiences of the Divine. For him, this happened at a Moravian meetinghouse on Aldersgate Street in London.
- After years of being a devoted Christian, he felt his heart strangely warmed..He said, “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me.”
- Like John Wesley, we might be Christian for years before experiencing such a deep sense of assurance, forgiveness, and love. But we can also rely on the witness and testimony of others.
- Assurance can also be gradual. While our faith journeys include significant markers, they are also a spectrum of growing relationships cultivated over a lifetime.
- Even though our life stories can be full of heartbreak and tragedy, everything we’ve experienced assures and affirms a God of love. Moreover, God IS love.
- Does “God is love” make sense? Perhaps a more difficult question than it seems on the surface.
- We experience many horrible things in this life, or at the very least read about them on the news. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense that a loving God would allow war and human trafficking to run rampant, for children to be murdered on our streets, or for natural disasters to decimate our communities. How could a God who is the literal definition of love allow these things to happen?
- At least part of the answer is that God loves us so much that God allows a certain amount of freedom through free will. But as human beings subject to the consequences of accumulated free will, sometimes that answer can be equally unsatisfying.
- Reflecting on reason also includes asking the question, “with what we know now, does anything change?” We live in a different world than the Biblical authors and John Wesley. Does what we know about science and the world challenge the statement, “God is love?”
- Experiences like the nuclear age and global pandemics have taught us about the interconnectedness of the world – our well being depends on the wellbeing of others. In this way, we reflect the sacred relationships embodied and first initiated by our God of love. God loved us first so that we might reflect that love in the world – this is the message of 1 John.
- I also know that not everything is chaos and destruction – there is some good in this world – there is something holding everything together and guiding us towards a more perfect future despite our imperfections.
What do you think? What else can we say about God? There are so many reflections to be made on three simple words – God is love! At the same time, we know God is love simply because we experience it to be true. In the end, perhaps our only proper response is awe, wonderment, worship, and thanksgiving.