By Charles Efedua

Is there a more used word than ‘love’? A recent study found that the most popular word of 2014 is not actually a word at all but a symbol meaning love. A heart ’emoji’ was the most widely used character in blogs, Twitter and Facebook and in 250,000 global news outlets in the last 12 months, according to analysts.

Is that surprising? To the modern person, ‘love’ is so common we see it in many forms. “I love you, darling”….”I love to dance”….”I love this programme”. Love is sometimes used to describe events. Later this month, you’ll be able to attend the ‘Love Box festival’ in Finsbury park. If you so wish, you can buy fragrances that coin the word love.

“I Love Love” – Moschino

“In Love” – Victoria Secret

“Fall in Love” – Lucien George

The bible gives us a more specifc picture of love. In fact it goes so far as to say that love isn’t just a feeling. It isn’t a word to be attached to the title of an event. It isn’t a fragrance that helps us reduce the smell of body odour. Love is a person. God is Love.

God is Love

The apostle John writes in a letter:

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

My brother Regan taught us of the Triune nature of God. That God is three in person and yet one in essence is the bedrock of our understanding of this love that John talks about someone not having. Because The Father loves The Son and The Spirit, because the Son loves The Father and The Spirit, because The Spirit loves The Father and The Son, the abundance of Their love for one another spills out into Their love for creation. Because of this example of love, we who are created in His image are too love. Not doing so, proves we do not even know Him.

Love is not God

What’s wrong with equating “God is Love” with “Love is God”? Is it not reasonable to assume that “Love is God” therefore all that we do in ‘love’ is divinely inspired and God approved.

In short, No. Vic reminded us recently that the God is Holy. God is set apart. His ways are not our ways. They are mightier than our ways. In order to love rightly, we must first look up. Nadab and Abihu found that out the hard way. Trying to love God in worship, they tried to do it in a way that pleased them first hoping it would please God. The consequences were dire.

In 1 Cor 13, Paul says that even if I seek to do worthy things such as communicate in other tongues, prophecy, even give gifts to the poor and do so without love, it is a waste of time.

What must we emphasise when defining the love of God? Righeousness.

John writes:

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” – 1 John 3:7-10

John here makes a correlation between those who do not practise righteousness or love their brothers, and knowing God.

How do we know God loves us?

“So what!”, you might ask. What does this have to do with ‘me’?

Well, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Let’s not ignore this overused cliché for it is absolutely true. God loves you and desires you to have communion with Him. But your sins have separated you from him. Because God is ‘Just’, because God is ‘holy’, He cannot just turn a blind eye to our sin. Would a just judge in today’s society allow a mass murderer who has abused countless people to just walk away without serving justice?

God is holy, so even the sin you think is nothing is most important to Him and He must pronounce judgement on you. God “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). The bad news is that God’s standard is Himself and in every criteria, you will fall short.

The good news is that God loves you. How do I know this? The bible tells me:

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. That plan is Jesus Christ Himself. Christ came and lived the life that you and I were supposed to live. But He also died the death that you and I were supposed to die. He bore our sins. All the wrong doing that you and I have and will commit, all those sins that a holy and righteous judge must condemn God has punished the beloved Son for. And he died…..But He rose again. And through belief in His name, everyone who believes in Him is set free from sin.