Yr B ~ Easter 5 ~ 1 John 4:7-21
We’ve talked about it before but it bears mentioning again – anytime we try to define God, or explain God, or seek to say anything about God at all we are instantly and necessarily babbling idiots. God is beyond any of our feeble-minded attempts at categorization or explanation. As soon as you think you’ve got a handle on God and start to believe that you understand God you’ve utterly failed. Any god you can understand is not a god worth having. And any person who claims to tell you what God is all about is a fool. And so I begin. And I’m euchred from the start.
But I can’t not talk about God – partly because that’s my job, but mostly because I’m alive! It’s a question that has fascinated humanity since the beginning.
What is God?
Well, let’s start with the basics. Is God animal, vegetable, or mineral? No, no, and no.
Is God solid, liquid, or gas? Nope, nope, and nope.
Is God discernible using any scientific method whatsoever? Negative!
Then doesn’t that mean God isn’t real? No, it just means that God is not discernible using any scientific method! You don’t use a thermometer to measure distance. It’s a useful tool, but fundamentally the wrong tool for certain jobs.
Christians have, from the beginning, made the claim that while we don’t understand God we ‘know’ God – intimately. Anyone who’s ever been partnered in a serious way knows that you can intimately know someone and never really understand them! And in our intimate interactions with this God we know we’ve come to express our sense of God in one succinct, powerful sentence – God Is Love. I’m going to prattle on for another 30 or 40 minutes here (j/k) but I’m never going to say anything better than God is Love – because that says it all.
God is love. That’s the answer to the ultimate question. God is love.
Author Douglas Adams in his Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books humorously suggested that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything was 42. Well, that was the first answer – later we learned that 42 was actually the answer to ‘what do you get when you multiply six by nine?’ If you just did the math and realized that that doesn’t make 42 you’re right. His point was that life, the universe, and everything had no point. Adams was an atheist – a funny one, but still an atheist.
As much as I liked his books I disagree fundamentally with his premise. Life, the universe, and everything most definitely has a point, and that point is love. Every poet and artist and musician in history has understood that. Every person who looked into the eyes of their lover has understood that. And everyone who has ever marvelled at a sunset, been humbled by the power of the ocean tide, drawn a deep breath of fresh air, been the recipient of an act of generosity or kindness, had a friend, or has witnessed the miracle of birth and the relationship that a family has – everyone of those people has at least subconsciously intuited that life has a point, and that point is love.
Just because you can’t make a rational argument to support love doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Love is not rational, but it’s not irrational either. It’s transrational. It’s not without reason, it’s beyond reason. That’s why we say God is love – beyond reason (transrational) – only able to be known and experienced, and never understood.
Let’s look at 1 John 4:7-8 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love – so you can’t know God if you don’t love.
I’d argue that this doesn’t say that an atheist doesn’t love – what it says is that if they love then on some level they know ‘God.’ Whether their intellect allows them to name it as such is really irrelevant. Every atheist loves, but they don’t make the association that we would, that love and God are one. If you love, you know God on some level, for God is love.
Does it work the other way too? If God is love, is love God?
God is love. Yes! Sounds wonderfully spiritual.
Love is God. Love is God. Hmm.
I’m just going to let you think about that…for like, a year!
Sometimes it’s just language and metaphors that stop someone from acknowledging God’s love, yet language and metaphor are all we have to describe God. read on