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‘How can God be love?’

But what about this idea of “God is love” that you so often hear?
Pastor Robin Murray

by Pastor Robin Murray

In previous columns I have mentioned a little about the Christian understanding that the very essence of God is one of relationship; the Holy Trinity, traditionally called “Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” but also “Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit,” as well as a number of other names.

But what about this idea of “God is love” that you so often hear?

Because “love,” as both a noun and a verb, is based on relationship, for God to be capable of loving, there must be a relationship.

If God is love and Creator God made the world in love, how could God be love prior having that relationship – prior to the existence of creation?

For God to be love, therefore, God must have existed in loving relationship prior to the creation of our universe.

In the Christian tradition, that relationship is understood to be the one existing between the Trinity; one God consisting of three distinct but inseparable “persons” in eternal relationship with one another.

The universe reflects the importance of relationship through forces like gravity and atomic structure, which are entirely based on the relationship of objects and particles to one another.

This is some pretty complex theological reflection that sometimes makes my head spin.

Nevertheless, I think it is important to do, because otherwise words like “God is love” just become empty platitudes we find printed on coffee mugs and then are forgotten in the way we actually live our lives.

God, as love, moves through our hearts, changing us from selfish beings to outward moving beings, reaching out to others in relationship.

Through the incarnation as Jesus, God the Christ has entered our world, becoming one of us, living and dying in relationship to those around him.

Beyond that life, the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit, gives us all the choice and promise of a Christ-like relationship with God and with others, one based in love.

In Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, we find a way to live in new relationship with God.

Through the Spirit of Christ, we can experience a new intimacy with God as children of the divine (John 1:12) saving us from a life lacking in meaning and love.

The most important take away from all of this, though, is that we live in loving.

Robin Murray is the pastor of Castlegar United Church.