“When understood in its true Biblical sense, love as a divine attribute is unique to the Christian concept of God” (God the Redeemer, Cottrell, p. 323). Love, after all, is the Christian specialty. Love is the greatest expression of our innate spark of divinity – “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of them is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love is our commandment. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
“For God is love”
1 John 4:8,16 is “the most daring statement that has ever been made in the human language. The fact that God is love is the quintessence, the central word of the whole Bible” (The Christian Doctrine of God, Brunner, p. 183). And there are some marvelous practical applications to this verse:
First, the fact that God is love must not be interpreted to mean that God is only love. The same book also claims that God is light (1 John 1:5). In the same way, a large red box can be described as a box, but also has the attributes of size and color. God is love, but He is also vengeful (Romans 12:19), jealous (James 4:5), and a righteous judge (Colossians 3:23-25).
So anybody who wants to assert that there is no actual God, but only that love is God, fails to realize that there is more to the Lord than just one side. The terms “God is love” and “love is God” are not interchangeable.
The fact that God is love tells us that everything He does – all of His dealings with us – proceed from Love. God always has our best interests in mind.
We need to see that there is a very affectionate side of God. He will always have a soft spot for His creation, which is why He was always there for the people of Israel in the Old Testament. There is a very soft tenderness that pervades God. “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared…” (Titus 3:5, John 16:27). There are some great analogies that follow this idea:
Father and child (Psalm 103:13, Matthew 6:9, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:1-7).
Mother and infant (Isaiah 49:15).
Husband and wife (Hosea 2:1-20, Ephesians 5:25, 2 Corinthians 11:2).
Shepherd and flock (Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:11, John 10:11).
A mother hen and chicks (Matthew 23:37).
When we consider these analogies, we need to remember that whatever emotions, feelings, and tender affections are associated with these relationships in a human sense are infinitely multiplied in the divine mind.