I believe in a God of love.
Statements like the one above, and those similar to that, are popular today. It’s often said when someone is sharing an opposing view of how they believe sexuality is best played out or the idea that God would send anyone to hell.
Anything that comes across as even remotely judgmental today is quickly dubbed as something their God wouldn’t approve of. This is often said to Christians when discussing controversial issues (and to be clear, there are many times when Christians should be more loving in how they speak, act, and try to get their point across).
Often times people who don’t claim to be Christians but believe in some manifestation of God tell Christians that the God they believe in is more loving than the one Christians claim to represent.
But there is a dilemma here.
Often times people think that a loving God cannot be a God of judgment. But a loving God is a God of judgment. Author Becky Pippert writes,
Think how we feel when we see someone we love ravaged by unwise actions or relationships. Do we respond with benign tolerance as we might toward strangers? Far from it. . . . Anger isn’t the opposite of love. Hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference. . . . God’s wrath is not a cranky explosion, but his settled opposition to the cancer . . . which is eating out the insides of the human race he loves with his whole being.
The wrath of God comes directly from his love, not in spite of it. Recently my wife and I had a baby girl named Finley. We just started introducing her to vegetables and fruits. Once she is old enough to have things like ice cream and cookies, like all other kids, she will prefer junk food to most anything healthy. And there will be rules of when she can and cannot eat cookies.
If she decides to eats a bunch of cookies right before dinner, she will face consequences. And we will punish her not because we are unloving, be precisely because we love her (even if in the moment she doesn’t understand). Eating cookies for every meal is unhealthy and not good for her, and because we want what’s best for her; for her to be healthy.
It would be unloving not to correct her and teach her how to be healthy.
In fact, the whole idea of a loving God to begin with only comes from one place: the Bible.
In his masterful book The Reason for God Tim Keller writes,
I found no other religious text outside of the Bible that said God created the world out of love and delight… The belief in a God of pure love- who accepts everyone and judges no one- is a powerful act of faith. Not only is there no evidence for it in the natural order, but there is almost no historical, religious textual support for it outside of Christianity. The more one looks at it, the less justified it appears.
Saying “God is love” while rejecting Christianity is problematic because no other religion in the world presents a God who is loving other than the God of the Bible. Therefore, to reject the Bible as authoritative over our lives while still claiming to believe in a “God of love” is to believe in a God that we have made up. Which is fine, but let’s at least be intellectually honest about it.
If you believe in a “God of love” but not the God of the Bible, then what god do you actually believe in, and where does this belief come from? A god that agrees with everything we agree with is just a figment of your imagination and no god at all. Either that, or he is a god who is no more powerful or wise than we, and that god certainly isn’t worthy of living your life for.
I too believe in a God of love, and his name is Jesus.