No Christian shall dispute the simple statement God is Love. He may not fully understand His ways but he shall have no difficulty in accepting it. He does so with his head.
When we read a simple statement that ‘God is love’ our understanding can only work from two positions. We know the timeless quality of God and accept the statement as such. We do so with our head. Another manner we connect with the statement is in real time. It is from our heart. From this position we shall ask, ‘What does love of God means to me?’ In whichever case how we respond to it is crucial.
According to Pew Research Centre’s findings “Indeed, while about eight-in-ten American congregants still attend services at a place where a single racial or ethnic group comprises at least 80% of the congregation, one-in-five now worship in congregations where no single racial or ethnic group predominates in such a way. This figure has risen in recent years, from 15% in the 1998 NCS and 17% in the 2006-07 NCS…Michael Lipkis article of Dec.8,2014) Considering the deep divisions in the American politics under the Trump Presidency what are we to assume? Evangelicals who jumped in the bandwagon of Trump and took no pains to promote him as a good Christian model must be seen for what they are. Prosperity theology seeks natural soil for growth and TV preachers and theologians who thrive from their sale of books, shows and sermons are all propagating love of God. But is it from the heart or from their head?
When a certain lawyer wanted to question Jesus who his neighbour was, elicited from him a parable and he said at the end ‘Go and do thou likewise.’ Mercy as Jesus delineated was not same as ‘an eye for eye and a tooth for tooth’. His mind could transcend the narrow legality that made the Pharisees pass over judgment and love of God. In short they laid waste the exceeding richness of God’s promises for dry as dust articles of law.
Jesus at another place said, ‘I came not to call the righteous but sinners to righteousness (Lk.5: 32).’ He had rightly guessed that minutiae of observance gave the Jews certain selfish pride of fulfilling ordinances before eyes of men. They were however deceived. They had in the process let their minds become closed in and arid. In the episode of the woman taken in adultery her accusers, the scribes and Pharisees were all clear as to what punishment she deserved. But they were shocked at the answer of Jesus. Without falling into the trap they had set to catch him at his words, Jesus made them look instead into their own hearts. We read that ‘being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one…(Jn.8: 9) In his view mercy loomed larger and he demonstrated love of his Father by dismissing her, ‘Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.’
His ministry was to make all see love of God and his mercy rather than maintain any self-righteousness that was inimical to their finding righteousness of God. God is love and it is beyond any narrow interpretation of law. This was the reason why he rebuked any suggestion from his disciples to command fire to come down from heaven and punish the Samaritans (LK.9: 54). He did not manifest himself in the world to be just another prophet, however revered as Elijah was. Love of God he represented in his person. He was his witness.
“You can have theology in head without it being in heart, but it can’t be in heart unless it’s first in head” said RC Sproul. But does it hold any practical value without translating it in personal actions? It is like Calvin preaching love of God. His head all for God would not give full marks for Atonement of his Son., His heart and head were not in step to be precise. God loved so did his Son: the sinless One dying for the sinful (no matter what his colour or creed is) is love from the heart. Teachers of law in the time of Jesus missed the point. So shall in this age whose lives in the ivory tower give them undivided attention from people who need not go into the midst of suffering and injustice. In the age of Affluenza we have lapdog variety of Christians never having to get down from their comfort and those who serve in all manner of negative workplace situations.
For a Christian growing in Christian experience is to grow from ‘glory to glory’. What would that entail in real sense? Any image of the invisible God must be translated so when one reflects it in any interaction with his world, what others see is self-same nature in some measure, as was in Jesus. For example ability to forgive one’s enemies unequivocally must connect with the manner he forgave his enemies at the cross. In a spirit of forgiveness we make peace with one another where grace of God is real. It is proved in the manner ill will can be conquered with patent good will. Love of God is present. Figuratively we may say that as a result we see Jesus, as in a glass darkly. Growing in maturity would be to make that clarify in real time and in real life situations. (2 Co.3: 18).
Great progressive societies without God often create areas of conflict where love of Christ would be necessary to remedy the situation. We are placed in midst of suffering and neglect so ministering to the needs of have-nots is one way of witnessing Jesus. Love of God we put to practice in our brotherly love. As long as inequality is perpetuated and prisons are marked for the weak and vulnerable we may be sure we have a ministry. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 Jo.4: 20)”