“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Could it be any clearer? God is love. This verse, from 1 John 4:8, just about says it all. We should love people. God does. Anyone who claims to love God, but hates people has an incomplete, or warped, view of God. He loves all people, everywhere, no matter the extent of their sin. And so must we, if we claim to be one of His followers. God is love. End of discussion. Not so fast.
If we’re going to accept that God is love, we must also accept the other parts of the Bible that speak about His other traits. For instance, while 1 John proclaims the nature of God being love one time, Isaiah announces His holiness – not once or twice, but three times:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
– Isaiah 6:3 (ESV)
The same Bible that says “God is love” also says that God is holy. If we pick and choose which verses of the Bible we like about God, and discard those we don’t, we end up with an idol – a self-fashioned, reconstructed “god” who isn’t really God after all. He is so entirely holy that no other trait describing Him is referenced in this way, three times in succession.
WRESTLING WITH GOD
The epic story of God is launched in Genesis with these monumental words that create the backdrop for all of life:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them . . . And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” – Genesis 1:27, 31 (ESV)
We were created in the image of God. We still are. Our current wrangling over sex and sexuality is really a wrangling over the nature and identity of God. Sexual confusion is a symptom of the real problem: confusion about God. Confusion about God leads to confusion about us.
We are now full-steam ahead in our efforts to recreate God in our own image. If the Bible teaches us anything, it teaches that all such attempts are futile. In other words, this path, if not reversed, does not end well.
LOVING PEOPLE, LOVING GOD
God does not fluctuate between degrees of love and holiness. He is, at all times, simultaneously love and holy. To love God is to love all of Him or nothing at all. To love people is to help them see that they are created in His image, and that image is not merely “good.” It is said in Genesis 1:31 to be “very good.” The idea is that we were created complete. We cannot succeed in adding to or subtracting from the image of God. Neither can we succeed when we add to or subtract from what He has created.
The most loving thing you can do in response to God’s love and holiness is embrace Him – all of Him – and help others do the same. Be careful you don’t recreate God into an inept, second-rate idol. Consider 1 Thessalonians 1:9:
“. . . you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
Not all “gods” are alive and true. Have you turned from false, powerless gods to the living and true God? If you have, then don’t turn back. If you haven’t, then it’s time you discover Him. Read the Bible, and set aside your editorial temptations. Don’t pick and choose which parts you like and don’t, because if you do, you’ll be recasting God in your image – and then you’ll have problems with your own identity. Love God by embracing all of Him.
LOVE SOMEONE WHO IS STRUGGLING
If you know someone who is struggling with their gender affiliation, help them understand that God didn’t make a mistake when He made us male and female. He didn’t make a mistake in making them male or female. What God made and makes was, and is, very good.
When we allow someone to remain in a fog about God, we aren’t loving them at all. If anyone tries to tell you that you’re a narrow-minded “hater” because you believe what the Bible teaches about sex and sexuality, don’t be intimidated. Name-calling is one of the most elementary signs of immaturity and fear. Remember, sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never harm you. The most loving thing you can do for someone is to help them discover the truth about God. The way to do this is to help them read the Bible as is, without adding or subtracting to what it teaches about God.
Remember: What we believe about ourselves is a reflection of what we truly believe about God. When we embrace the truth about God, and help others do the same, we model the most perfect love possible toward God and people. Once we do, all of life begins to make sense. Freedom begins with embracing the truth about God.
Are you afraid of knowing God or helping others know Him? Why? Learning the truth about God will help you learn about yourself. That’s what will really set you free.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.