What is God like?

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One of Gary Larson’s famous The Far Side cartoons depicts God sitting at his computer, on which is displayed an image of a man strolling innocently down the sidewalk. A grand piano hangs precariously over the fellow’s head, supported by slender ropes. God’s hand is hovering over the keyboard, His index finger about to strike the “SMITE” key.

Larson’s cartoon is funny, but also tragic. It reflects a notion in the minds of many of a God who takes delight in judging and smiting.

Most people have serious questions about the kind of God they’re dealing with. Sadly, many Christians cannot shake the notion that God is a stern celestial patriarch who is fussy, easily annoyed, demanding and reluctant to forgive. Our twisted ideas about God are deeply entrenched.

Popular notions of God tend to gravitate to two extremes: harsh implacable hostility or sappy doting benevolence. Omni-anger or omni-mush.

The God who exists is neither.

He is exactly like Jesus.

There is no ominous God who lurks behind Jesus. If we have seen the Son, we have seen the Father. Jesus is the final answer to the question, “What is God like?” We have a Christ-like God. Jesus is the truth about God.

God is neither a sadist judge nor doting grandfather. He is a Calvary-like God. He is a turbulent, ardent, holy, fiery, awesome, passionate Lover. And He has set his affections on you.

That is the most staggering piece of news you will ever hear.

–J. O. Schulz

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That simple liberating truth

7934 copyGod is love. God is a lover. He is not a manager, businessman, accountant, owner, or puppet-master. What he wants from us first of all is not a technically correct performance but our heart. Protestants and Catholics alike need to relearn or re-emphasize that simple, liberating truth.

–Peter Kreeft

Published in: on 09/26/2015 at 4:06  Leave a Comment  
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When love takes over

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The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. In one high bound it has overleaped the massive wall of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being.

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Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival. It is even (well used) a preparation for that.

―C. S. Lewis
The Four Loves

When Love stooped

the-birth-fo-jesus-by-carl-heinrich-blochLove that goes upward, from
the heart of man to God, is adoration. Love that goes outward, from one heart to another, is affection. But love that stoops is grace and God stooped to us. This is the most stupendous fact of the universe. It reveals to us that our God is love.

–Donald Grey Barnhouse

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Painting: Carl Heinrich Bloch

Unstinting affection

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We must understand that God does not “love” us without liking us – through gritted teeth – as “Christian” love is sometimes thought to do. Rather, out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it.

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The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward all his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core – which we vainly try to capture with our tired but indispensable old word “love”.

–Dallas Willard
The Divine Conspiracy

Published in: on 10/07/2014 at 5:54  Leave a Comment  
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His undivided attention

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How often have we been told that it is important that we love God.  And this is true.  But is it far more important that God loves us!  Our love for God is secondary.  God’s love for us is first:  “This is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us” (1 John 4:10).  This is the foundation…

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“We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves” (1 John 4:16).  This is the content of our faith–“God’s love towards ourselves.”  The whole Apostles’ Creed is nothing but a statement twelve times over of belief in this very love which God has for us…

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God does not measure love.  God cannot but love totally–100%.  If we think God is a person who can divide his love, then we are thinking not of God but of ourselves.  God is perfectly one, the perfect unity.  We have love, but God is love.  His love is not an activity.  It is his whole self.  If we but grasp some idea of this, we understand that God could not possibly give 100% of his love to his Son and then 70% to us.  He would not be God if he could do that.  When we read the dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, we get the impression that God has nothing to do but simply occupy himself with Catherine.  And that is right.  The undivided attention of God is with her and with each of us.

–Peter Van Breeman, S.J.
The Courage to Accept Acceptance

The divinest thing about God

For the divinest thing in God is love, and the true ‘glory of God’ is neither some symbolical flashing light nor the pomp of mere power and majesty; nor even those inconceivable and incommunicable attributes which we christen with names like Omnipotence and Omnipresence and Infinitude, and the like. These are all at the fringes of the brightness. The true central heart and lustrous light of the glory of God lie in His love, and of that glory Christ is the unique Representative and Revealer, because He is the only Begotten Son, and ‘full of grace and truth.’

–Alexander McLaren
(1826 – 1910)

Ultimate reality

The eternal experience of God is a shared life of personal love between Father, Son, and Spirit. This is the basis for John’s unique declaration in his first epistle: God is love!   (1 John 4:8, 16) We often forget how absolutely amazing this affirmation really is. It has absolutely no equal in the whole of ancient literature. It is therefore worth repeating: God is love! John is not simply emphasizing that God loves; John proclaims that God is love.

Love is not merely a function or expression of God;
love is the very essence of God.

The constant experience of God is love. Ultimate reality – the divine reality – is love.

–Richard J. Vincent

We need a Trinity

A unipersonal god would not have within himself that eternal love or communion into which he would wish to introduce us. Nor would such a god become incarnate; instead he would instruct us from afar about how we were to live rightly.

–Dumitru Staniloae

Love involves more than one

That God is somehow plurality-in-oneness, that is, intrinsically relational, is the logical necessity of the statement “God is love”.

–Bruxy Cavey

It’s been going on forever

All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that ‘God is love.’ But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love. Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean ‘Love is God.’ They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to be treated with great respect. Perhaps they are: but that is something quite different from what Christians mean by the statement ‘God is love.’ They believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else.

–C. S. Lewis

Not a maths problem

The trinity is not a maths problem.  The trinity is the good news that God is love…

So, to find the pulse of the universe (if you want to tap into the heart beat of reality) what do you find?  You find fierce, passionate, determined, life-giving love that flows between the Generous Father, His Beloved Son and the Life-Giving Spirit.

The life of these Persons, the relationships which they share IS the source of all true beauty, joy, goodness, holiness and love. To belong to this God, to participate in this circle of divine friendship is the goal of all existence, it is the meaning of life.

–Glen Scrivener

Relationship is the very essence

The message held in the mystery of the Trinity is that God is not a monistic singleton God, but rather a Three-in-One of Whom loving relationship is the very essence, for He shares Himself even in the depths of His Own Being. For although He is the one and only Lord, He could not possibly exist alone, even prior to the creation, because God is love and love presupposes a relationship, a plurality (at least) of persons. Without this plurality there could be no love. The very idea of sharing could never have existed, and therefore the creation itself, that monumental act in which the Creator undertook to share Himself with creatures would never have taken place.

–Mike Mason

The deepest truth about God

Now what is the deepest in God? His power? No, for power could not make Him what we mean when we say God. Evil could, of course, never create one atom; but let us understand very plainly, that a being whose essence was only power would be such a negation of the divine that no righteous worship could be offered Him. His service must be fear, and fear only. Such a being, even were He righteous in judgment, yet could not be God.

The God Himself whom we love could not be righteous were He not something deeper and better still than we generally mean by the word — but, alas, how little can language say without seeming to say something wrong! In one word, God is Love. Love is the deepest depth, the essence of His nature, at the root of all His being.

–George MacDonald

His nature is to love

Why does God love sinners? . . . He loves them because it is in His nature to love, because He is love. Unceasingly, He gives in spontaneous love. He loves not because of what we are but because of what He is: He is love. This is a new and distinct idea in Christianity . . .

–Leon Morris

His inmost nature

Men are too ready to look upon God as crushing force and cold omniscience. Had Christ appeared on earth with all His splendours about Him, He would have perpetuated our mistake. But He took another way. It is the very essence of the Word to be the Divine expression of the inmost nature of God. The inmost nature of God is love, and when Christ emptied Himself of the excercise of omnipotence and infinite knowledge, He did not empty Himself of love. He divested Himself only of that which would have dazzled and distracted us, in order that we might see His love more perfectly. The self-sacrifice of Bethlehem, leading on to that of Calvary, leaves no room for doubt.

–Arthur J. Mason

Published in: on 02/28/2012 at 4:30  Leave a Comment  
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The true glory of God

For the divinest thing in God is love, and the true ‘glory of God’ is neither some symbolical flashing light nor the pomp of mere power and majesty; nor even those inconceivable and incommunicable attributes which we christen with names like Omnipotence and Omnipresence and Infinitude, and the like. These are all at the fringes of the brightness. The true central heart and lustrous light of the glory of God lie In His love, and of that glory Christ is the unique Representative and Revealer, because He is the only Begotten Son, and ‘full of grace and truth.’

–Alexander McLaren
(1826 – 1910)

Published in: on 02/27/2012 at 12:13  Leave a Comment  
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By Love alone

God is present by Love alone. By Love alone He is great and glorious. By Love alone He lives and feels in other persons. By Love alone He enjoys all the creatures, by Love alone He is pleasing to Himself, by Love alone He is rich and blessed…  The Soul is shrivelled up and buried in a grave that does not love. But that which does love wisely and truly is the joy and end of all the world, the King of Heaven, and the Friend of God.

–Thomas Traherne
(1637?-1674)

Published in: on 02/24/2012 at 6:29  Leave a Comment  
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Love is God’s essence

 

Love is God’s essence. Nowhere else does the Scripture express God’s essence in this way. Scripture says God is just and merciful, but it does not say that God is justice itself or mercy itself. It does say that God is love, not just a love. Love is God’s very essence. Everything else is a manifestation of this essence to us, a relationship between this essence and us. This is the absolute, everything else is relative to it.

–Peter Kreeft

Published in: on 02/23/2012 at 7:20  Comments (1)  
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Love’s consuming fire

God is burning with love. God is a consuming fire because love is a consuming fire. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have been in a state of all-consuming but ever-generating love for each other form before all time. This love, being love, is reaching beyond itself, to generate an ever-expanding loving and beloved community. This is what the whole thing is all about.

Come on in, if you dare; the fire is fine…

This, and nothing less than this is what we we’re mystically wired for. We’re mystically wired for more love than we ever thought existed. We’re mystically wired to stand in the middle of love’s consuming fire and not so much as smell smoke.

–Ken Wilson

The glow of love

God himself is Love; his Being is nothing but pure love, so that if one would paint God and secure a likeness he would have to achieve a picture that is all pure Love, as if the divine nature were nothing but a furnace and glow of Love that fills heaven and earth.

–Martin Luther

Published in: on 02/13/2012 at 7:15  Leave a Comment  
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Unstoppable goodness

Heaven is the pervading active presence of the Triune God. Because God is love, in heaven love flows like a mighty river and everyone will be swept up by the force and delight of its self giving passion. Because God is joy, in heaven no one is sour and somber; the atmosphere is alive with humour and laughter and enjoyment. Because God is holy, nothing will ever diminish or tarnish the unstoppable force of everlasting goodness and beauty.

–Jurgen Schulz

Published in: on 09/14/2011 at 0:35  Leave a Comment  
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Irrational Love

It is only the revelation
that God is love that clarifies
the happy irrationality
of God’s conduct and
His relentless pursuit.
For love tends to be irrational.
It pursues in spite of infidelity.

-Brennan Manning

Published in: on 05/28/2011 at 23:42  Leave a Comment  
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What does God want of us?

[I]t is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves . . . He claims all, because He is love and must bless.

He cannot bless us unless He has us.

When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all.

–C. S. Lewis

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