1 John 4:16 God is love…
I tend to think in black and white. I can comprehend that something has more than one dimension, but it takes effort for me to do it. It is my first impulse to embrace a single aspect of almost everything. So when I read that God is love, I run with it. This is a concrete statement that I can sloganize and cling to. God is love, end of story.
As a Christians, I think we often do this. We pick out one verse that supports our idea of God and we make it our life verse. We thus reduce God to one simple attribute that we can comprehend. Some will find God’s face to be a face of smiles and love and some will find his face to be holy and stern.
I find that most of the errors I make in understanding God come from this myopic view of him. Depending on the passage or situation, I too, tend to focus more on God’s loving face or his holy face.
When I read the above passage, I think of God as all love, grace and mercy. I embrace his forgiveness and in my defective thinking, I use this view of God as a license to live however I want. Love means no consequences, right? This view of God, is of course unbalanced as it is blind to his holiness, justice and discipline.
If I read another passage like 1 Peter 1:16, I find God saying, You shall be holy, for I am holy. This passage seems to me to be at odds with the God is love passage, revealing God to be less soft and fuzzy than I thought. I read about God striking Ananias and Sapphira dead for their deceit (Acts 5) and I feel a cold sweat. Suddenly, I am fearful of God. I thought I was forgiven. What’s all this about discipline and holy living?
The reality is that God is somehow a perfect balance of both love and holiness. He is not too much one or the other. He knows exactly how to deal with me in my destructive pursuits. He takes my face in his hands, looks into my eyes and says, Scott, I love you and I forgive you for all that you have done. Nothing you can do will make you not be my child. Right now, though, I need you to stop behaving like an ass. You are my child. Start acting like it.
This may not be what I want to hear. I may want to hear that it is all OK and since love covers all, I do not really have to worry about consequences. What I deserve is to be laid waste. What God gives me though, is exactly what I need. I need to hear that He loves me but also expects me to follow him. God perfectly reveals to me both his face of holiness and his face of love. It is in seeing both that I begin to know God.