God is Love - Heather Portillo

“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

“God is love.” We’ve all heard this verse and others like it. In a culture that finds it difficult to define love, it can also be difficult to understand God in this context. In 1992, the popular Christian music group, DC Talk released a song called “Luv is a Verb”. Since that time there have been movies, books, and magazine articles published with similar titles and concepts. Growing up in a culture that says love is a verb, I’ve always viewed it as a verb – an action, not a person.

It was not until a few years ago that I began to view love as a noun, that is, God the person. In reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (another verse most of us know pretty well) I realized that if God is love, then this familiar verse could also read:

“God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, God always trusts, God always hopes, God always perseveres.”

For me, this reality was a jaw dropper. As humans we tend to view God through the lens of our own experiences and perspective. Our experiences with our own father, for example, will influence the way we understand God the Father. Our experiences with our friends can influence the way we view “the friend we have in Jesus”. The experience we have with church leadership can influence the way we view God as our spiritual leader. The list could go on with teachers, counselors, protectors, providers, physicians, etc. However, understanding that God is everything 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says He is can help us to see Him in completely new ways. This can help us understand that while we may have had a parent who was easily angered, our Father, God is not that way. We may have had a friend who kept a record of our wrongs, but Jesus is not that kind of friend. We may have had doctors who didn’t persevere or teachers who lost patience but we can trust that God does not operate that way. It is important to remember that love is a person and our loving actions are an imitation of that person.

God, thank you for loving me and providing your Word to help me understand who you are. Help me to share your love with others by modeling your character. Also, please help me to recognize where I view you through the lens of my own negative experiences and where my understanding of who you are is distorted. May I draw nearer to you through scripture and prayer so that I can experience your love in deeper ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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