Wednesday, 05 February 2014 14:51

The Sacred Origin of Love

Written by  Dr. Shawn Merithew, Morningview Baptist Church
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Love is certainly one of our favorite subjects, isn’t it?  The ideal of love compels us toward others, and early in our adult lives, it sets us on a quest for our “soul mate.”  It draws us to books and movies where we can experience both the beautiful depths and painful nuances that come with imperfect people striving to attain perfect love.  Even among the heroes that inspire us, we find that their greatest displays of valor are most often spawned by their loving devotion to another.

Where does such love come from?  For the Christian, the answer is both simple and profound:  “God is love.” (1 John 4:8)  Biblically speaking, this means that God is the origin and fountainhead of love.  He defines what love is, He embodies all the perfections of love, He created us as His image-bearers with the capacity and desire to love, and He Himself has given us the most ultimate display of love in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ.

 

As profound as that already is, let’s not stop there.  It is worth our time to dig deeper into this truth.  What does it mean to say that God intrinsically “is” love?  To answer this question, we must delve into the subject of God’s triune nature.  The Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity -- the theological fact that God is one eternal being consisting of three persons.  Those persons are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. 

 

From the very first chapter of the Bible, we see God referring to Himself in the plural: “Let us make man in our image. . .” (Gen 1:26).  This is the beautiful truth taught by the first chapter of John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)  Jesus revealed to his disciples that in seeing Him, they had seen the Father (John 10:30, 14:7-9), and numerous verses likewise refer to the Holy Spirit as God (Matt 28:19, Acts 5:3-4, 1 Cor 12:4-6).  Thus, there is one God that exists eternally as three persons, and each person is fully God.

 

So what does God’s triune nature have to do with the fact that He is love?  To put it simply, if God were not triune, He would be neither personal nor loving in the eternal sense.  You see, love by its very nature is relational.  It requires both a subject and an object.  Likewise, personhood is realized in relationship.  So if God were merely a solitary being without a plurality of persons, He would be neither loving nor personal in and of Himself.  He would have had to create others in order to meet this need and completely define Himself.  Such an idea is heretical because it means that God needed something beyond Himself to be fully God. 

 

Scripture makes it very clear that God has never needed anything -- He is the only being in existence dependent on nothing outside Himself.  Acts 17:25 tells us “nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Because God is a triune being, He has eternally been both personal and relational in Himself, in full independence from His creation.  Between the members of the godhead, there exists perfect community, beautiful harmony, and the fullest, most infinite expression of love.

 

So when we read “God is love,” it refers first and foremost to the inter-trinitarian relationships within the eternal godhead.  God is love within Himself; the Father, Son, and Spirit love one another and rejoice in one another with righteous eternal fervency.  Thus, God did not “need” to create us; He chose to create us.  As an act of His divine love, God brought creation into being so that the eternal love of the godhead might abound through His image-bearers, all to the glory of His name.

 

This truth has profound implications when we consider our own relationships.  As special creations of a loving God, we were made to love.  We are to love Him first with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31).  This means the way we love our spouse, our children, our family members, and our friends is to be a reflection of who He is and our identity as His children.

 

 

Shawn S. Merithew, Ph.D., is senior pastor of Morningview Baptist Church in Montgomery.  He may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 10 February 2014 14:55
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