Love matters most of all

Friday 2nd June, 2023

If the message of the bible could be summarised in one word that word would be love. God’s love for us, and God’s desire for us to be in loving harmonious relationship with both God and one another is woven throughout the entirety of the bible: From Genesis that tells us we were designed in the image of love, to subdue and populate the earth in perfect harmony with God and each other, through to the book of Revelation which outlines God’s final plan to reconcile humanity with each other and with God, so that God will be “all in all”

Jesus told us that the law was built on love, that our moral compass should be love, and indeed, whilst God, as love, is slow to anger, when we do see God become angry with humanity, it is for failing to behave in a loving way. In fact the bible outlines seven things that God finds abominable and they are all about how we treat one another, do these things sound familiar after reading about what love looks like?

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Proverbs 6:16-19

In case you missed any of my blog posts about love, below is a summary of them, with links to each one, consider any passage of the bible you have read about the nature of God, about the way God wants us to behave in light of love, it’s really all less difficult than we make it out to be.

Love is patient, showing tolerance and gentleness even when it is frustrated. This is why God hates hands that shed innocent blood
Love is kind, treating others as it wishes to be treated, even when they are wrong, this is also why God hates hands that shed innocent blood.
Love is not envious, because jealousy arises from a sense of entitlement and possessiveness, not from love or respect. This is why God hates a heart that devises wicked schemes, because wicked schemes are usually borne out of jealousy and envy.
Love is not boastful or arrogant, love is humble, it has healthy self-esteem and knows it’s own worth, whilst recognising the equal inherent worth and beauty of others. This is why God hates “haughty eyes” otherwise known as “arrogance”
Love is not rude, it knows that words have power to hurt or to heal and uses it’s power to build others up, not to tear them down. This is why God hates a person who stirs up cnflict.
Love does not insist on it’s own way. It lays down all power and authority it holds and submits itself to others, love serves.
Love is not irritable. There is no fear in love, you do not have to walk on eggshells around love. Violence and murder have no place in love, God hates hands that shed innocent blood.
Love is not resentful. It does not play the victim or throw past wrongs in your face, or blame you when things go wrong.
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing. It does not revel or gloat when others mess up, it does not take pleasure in the suffering of others. This is why God hates feet that are quick to rush into evil.
Love rejoices in the truth. Love knows that truth does not hurt, but causes people to blossom, to flower, knows that the truth brings freedom and loves to see people spread their wings. This is why God hates a lying tongue.
Love bears all things, sharing burdens with others, providing a place of protective shelter in a storm and being vulnerable enough to ask for shelter when it needs it.
Love believes all things, it trusts and is trustworthy
Love hopes all things, it wants the best for others and gives others a reason to hope
Love endures all things, it perseveres until the end, in full and equal partnership
Love Never Ends. Because Love is God, and God is eternal

In a conversation a few days ago, I pointed out, that according to Ezekiel, the “detestable things” the people of Sodom did were having “pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did abominable things before me”

Someone incredulously asked whether I actually thought that God would destroy a city just for failing to feed the poor and needy? (as though this is nowhere near as bad as being gay!)

Which worries me. As far as God is concerned there is no just about it, the people of Sodom were proud and haughty, Proverbs tells us that God detests this. They were unloving, failing to be kind, putting themselves first. This matters to God. it really matters. God is far more bothered about how we treat one another, whether we act in love, than they are about who we have sex with. This is why Jesus said

“For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me…… Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

(Matthew 25: 42-45)

Failure to care for other humans is a serious matter, it grieves God, it makes God angry, it’s not a small matter, something and nothing. It is important, because it is about love, and that is of paramount importance.

It’s why God is so angry in Isaiah when they say

“When you stretch out your hands I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow”

(Isaiah 1: 15-17)

and in Amos

“Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them….For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins- you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate”

(Amos 5:11-14)

It is why the times when Jesus became most angry were the times he was challenging injustice and unloving behaviour, taking a whip to the con artists in the temple, calling the Pharisees “Whitewashed Tombs” and “Sons of Snakes” because they took advantage of widows. Take another look at those things God hates, did Jesus not demonstrate hatred of exactly the same things?

God does not ever say he hates the things conservative Christians seem to hate- gay people, muslims, women who have sex. You can think those things are “sinful” if you really want to but they aren’t where your focus should be, they aren’t the sins that grieve the Lord most. God loves love and God hates when we don’t love- thats all sin is, a failure to reflect God, who is Love.

Over a period of thousands of years God inspired humanity to write 66 books that were eventually canonised as the bible. In every one of those, over that entire time they repeatedly, endlessly told us that all they want from us is for us to love, that’s all that really matters. God even went as far as becoming love incarnate to get this message through to us- just love! How is it that we still don’t get it?