What is Love?

What is love?

Quite naturally, people search for love. In 2012, What is love? was the most searched-for phrase on Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_-_The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Detail_Father_SonGoogle. People define love in different ways: an emotion, action, state of mind, or a combination of these. Though some define it as nothing more than our biochemistry at work, most say love is much more than that, yet they struggle to find an adequate definition. Only God can accurately define what love is. Thankfully he has done so through the apostle John, who wrote, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It’s important to note here that John is not saying “love is God”—we don’t worship love and we don’t define what love is then apply those definitions to God. In writing that God is love, John is indicating that God’s nature and character—his very being—is loving. All God does is loving, and his will is loving. God’s agape love—his holy love—is what true love is all about. In knowing that, false views of love are exposed and ruled out.

There is a strong note of truth in the song, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. People look for love in family, friends and in romantic relationships, but as important as these relationship are, true love (holy, agape love) is found only when a person knows its true source—our triune God. God, who is love, created us for loving relationships, including the male-female relationship that is unique to marriage. Sadly, the deeper nature of God’s agape love often is forgotten when people, searching for romantic relationships, turn love into a search for merely satisfying their erotic desires. But when we ground our thinking on the sure foundation that love is the revelation of God, everything else we think about love, and the way we go about seeking after it, will align with reality and lead to our true fulfilment.

Who is God?

Much in our secular western society reflects the sad reality that, as a people, we have not retained God in our thinking. As a result, many struggle with the question, “Who is God?” As noted above, we know that God is love as a triune communion of holy, agape love—Father, Son and Spirit. Were he not triune, God would need creation or something other than himself in order to be love, because authentic love does not exist in isolation. The stunning truth is that God, who exists eternally in a tri-personal, loving relationship, has called us to share in both his love and life through his Son Jesus, by his Spirit. In that relationship, because we understand that God is love, we trust him to be loving—we trust his plan to bring us into relationship with himself and thus to fulfill his purpose for creating us. We also trust him to be faithful, and we trust the fact that even though we don’t understand everything he does (or allows) we know that his purposes are always good, flowing from who he is and expressing his love for us.

God’s revelation

We see that God is love most clearly, powerfully and directly in the incarnation, life and self-giving of the whole God through the Son of God on the cross. Jesus is God’s love in flesh and blood, in time and space, in Person. To know God that way is far more than “head knowledge”—it’s about a relationship with God, through Jesus, by the Spirit. In and through that relationship we experience God’s love “up close and personal”—much like we do in a truly loving friendship with another human. As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity,“ God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” Because he loves us, God has given us himself.

Scripture tells us that the revelation of who God is involves the work of the Father, Son and Spirit. The apostle Paul tells us that as God’s adopted children we are heirs with Jesus. He tells us that the Holy Spirit both leads us into this understanding and into a loving relationship with our Father in heaven. As a fruit of that relationship, we are enabled to have loving relationships with other people, loving our enemies as Jesus did, and seeking reconciliation and right relationship whenever we encounter alienation. The apostle Peter tells us God loves us so completely and profoundly that he includes us in his life:

[God’s] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV).

Let us think carefully about these things so that all we think and do (including our evangelism) is grounded fully in the revelation of who God is: love.

Sharing the revelation of God with others,
Joseph Tkach

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New Sermons added. “Who is Jesus?” series

How do you picture Jesus in your mind?  The image we carry around of him has a great effect on how we see God and how we view ourselves and others.  In this series we look at various popular and traditional images of Jesus Christ, and look at what we can learn from them, and what we need to be careful about.

 

We will look at “The Divine Jesus”, “The Conquering Christ,” “Christ the Judge,” “The Accepting Jesus”, and finally, “The Transforming Jesus.”

We hope this series will serve as a good lead up to and through Advent and Christmas.

Our annual Carol Service is also available.

We wish everyone a very meaningful and peaceful Christmas and thank you for visiting our website.

We hope you can come and visit us at one of our church services is you live nearby or are visiting at any time!

 

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The Favour of the King

The Favour of the King

Like many others, I enjoy keeping up with the British royals. The birth of the newest prince in July was exciting, not only because of the happiness of the young parents, but also because of all the history behind that little boy.

The new prince
The new prince

As I’ve read about kings and their courts and watched historical television shows and movies, I’ve noticed not only does the head that wears the crown lie uneasy (Henry IV, Shakespeare), but so did the heads of many in close proximity to the king. Anyone could be enjoying his favors one day and be on the chopping block the next. Even those closest to a king weren’t safe. In the days of Henry VIII, heads rolled with alarming frequency.

In times past, kings arbitrarily decided whether or not someone pleased them. They often used people to further their own agendas. The court and sometimes the whole country held their collective breath when a king died, as they didn’t know if they were better off with the tyrant they knew or the one to come.

It’s easy to see why legalism came about and why we confuse God’s nature with characteristics of leaders, fathers and others in authority. To those living under a monarchy, the king was almost on the same level as God. What he said was law and everyone was at his mercy, even if they thought they were too far away to be noticed.

When we misunderstand who God is, we might think he also makes arbitrary laws, that we are at the mercy of his wrath and if we stay far enough away, we can fly under the radar. After all, he’s probably too busy to worry about everyone. He’s way off in heaven somewhere. Or we think if we can just stay in his good graces, we’ll be safe. For many, it’s all about gaining his favor by being good enough.

But God isn’t like human kings. He rules the universe with love, mercy and grace. He’s not arbitrary in any way and doesn’t play games with our lives. He values and respects us as the children he created. He doesn’t decide who lives and who dies on a whim, but allows us to live out our lives and make our own choices for better or for worse.

None of us, no matter what choices we make, have to worry about whether or not we are in the good graces of our King Jesus. We live in God’s grace – constant, loving and complete. He doesn’t put limits on his grace. He doesn’t give it one day and take it away the next.  We don’t have to earn it. Grace is always available, always abundant and unconditional, just like God’s love. Under the love and care of our King, our heads can rest easy on our pillows, for we always live in his good grace.

Tammy

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