Friday 12th May, 2023
My boyfriend is one of those blokes who squirms at anything sentimental, romantic or overly sickly sweet. Say the word “love” to him and he’ll mimic barfing and say “bleugh.”
That’s because we’ve over sentimentalised “love.” worse we’ve turned it into something weak, something wussy, fluffy and ‘nice.’ we’ve stripped it of power, failed to recognise it as strength.
But what if ‘love’ is something ‘other’? What if love is a force? And not just any force, but THE force. What if love is that thing the buddhists call ‘Chi’? A life force, an energy, the undercurrent to everything in the universe. More than a force, what if ‘love’ is a supreme being, what if love is sentient, conscious and creative? What if it is THE creative force that brought about the entirety of existence, breathed itself into creation, brought about life by weaving itself into the very fabric of the world? What if love is God?
Stay with me on this.
What if all our love songs, all our art and poetry, literature and music is our attempt to fathom the unfathomable? What if the love that cries out from deep within us, aches to be free, to love and be loved, is the very soul of our being, the reflection of the divine, connecting with the Holy Spirit? What if our attempts to romanticise, sentimentalise and tie love up in a box with a neat little bow are just an attempt to control God, rather than submitting to God, to love? Love is so much more than we make it out to be, is it really describable? Is it really one thing? The Greeks had so many words for love, precisely because our human languages cannot define it, cannot contain it.
So we try to shrink it, just like we try to shrink God and contain the divine in religion, we ignore it and focus on sex, money and power, we misunderstand it, misuse it and appropriate it for our own ends. Think about it, we treat love an awful lot like the way we treat God.
After all, the bible tells us that “God is Love”, and so it follows that Love is God. It continues that “anyone who loves knows God” (1 John 4:8) why is this? Because Love IS God. Some people will read this and say it’s blasphemy, that I am “reducing” God to love. No, I am elevating my understanding of love, to God. Sometimes people tell me “God is more than love” but perhaps this thinking stems from a misunderstanding of love, from being socialised to reduce love to the sentimental, rather than fully comprehending that God is Love, Love is God. God cannot be more than love if God IS love, if love IS everything. I hear “but God is also righteous” what is righteousness? It is love, what is unrighteousness? Is it not he absence of love? “But God is just” I ask again; what is justice without love?
Love is all that is good, all that is holy, all that is pure. Love is the essence of God, the essence of creation, without it, we are nothing. Sin then, is the absence of love, of goodness, of God. Sin separates us from God because God is love and sin is the lack of love.
And Jesus? If God is love, then Jesus is love incarnate. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) Want to know what love looks like? Look to Jesus. Want to know what God looks like, look to Jesus. Jesus is the very embodiment of love, who gave itself up for its beloved creation, so we could live in love, fully, unhindered and free.
The problem this poses for Christians is that it means we lose ownership and control of God. If love is God, then God belongs to everyone, or more accurately, everyone belongs to God. We cannot claim a monopoly on love, and so, we cannot claim a monopoly on God. How do we control and contain that which runs through everyone’s veins? That which breathes life into every ant and every lion, every baby and every king, that force which every single one of us depends, recognises and needs? We can’t. Of course we cannot contain an omnipotent God, but we like to try to, and we like to claim special knowledge of God, we like our theology, our doctrine and our cleverness, we like to dictate to the world who God is, what God wants, how God speaks. But when we acknowledge that God is love, we have to acknowledge that the world already knows, because we all know love.