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A woman I was counseling years ago told me that her husband didn’t have a jealous bone in his body. I told her that worried me. A marriage without jealousy is a love without passion. And what is love without passion? Platonic friendship? Mutual concern? Doesn’t quite seem to be the stuff that lifelong commitments are made of, let alone an eternal love affair.

1 John 4:8 NKJV
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

If you have spent any time in a Sunday school or church service, I am sure you have heard that God is love. Early in my Christian walk, I was taught that the Bible only gave two absolute descriptions of God: God is love[1] and God is light[2]. While both of these declarations on the nature of God are fundamental to our understanding of our heavenly Father and profound in their revelations, they are not the only definers we are given in Scripture regarding His being. I say being because they are in the vein of what amounts to a straightforward encapsulation of His essence. They are not statements about what He does. What God does is determined by who He is. God cannot lie[3] because He is light. God sent His Son because He is love.

1 John 4:9 NKJV
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

It might sound like splitting hairs to differentiate between who God is and what God does, but the distinctions are important. He always behaves according to His nature. He maintains complete integrity in all of His actions. Though we certainly do not understand all He does or can do, He has gone to great lengths to show us who He is so we can have faith in what He does even if we don’t understand it. Aside from love and light, what else has He told us about His essence in Scripture?

Leviticus 11:45 KJV[4]
For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. [emphasis added]

“I am holy,” God says. This is a statement of being. He is absolutely morally perfect, not because He has submitted to some standard or performed some deed. No, holy is what He is. His very character of perfection is the defining rule of all that is right and pure. His presence alone is enough to expose the corruptness of man, even a “good” man.

Isaiah 6:1-5
1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

The prophet Isaiah was carried into the very throne room of God. The revelation he received of the Holy God made this “holy” man cry out in despair because of his uncleanness. It wasn’t a matter of the Lord showing up and saying to Isaiah, “Thou shalt not cuss, thou shalt not take my Name in vain, thou shalt not lie” and Isaiah being convicted by the commandment that he was a sinner with unclean lips. God simply pulled the veil back a bit and Isaiah saw Who holiness is and knew that he was not!

God is love. God is light. God is holy. What else does He say He is?

Exodus 34:14
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

It would stand to reason that a God who is love would also be jealous. He is desirous of our complete affection, not because He is insecure but because He knows there is no other being worthy of it. To shower adoration and worship on that which is not God is therefore wrong because of the very nature of who God is. Knowing God’s love, holiness, and jealousy helps us recognize the redemption story as the epic romance that it is instead of making it a stuffy, religious courtship full of formalism and cultural expectations. It is passion, not pretense. It is amorous, not aloof.  It is captivating, not confining. And it is boundlessly enduring.

Psalm 136:1 ESV
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

“His steadfast love endures forever” is the continual refrain of this song repeated at the end of each verse. God’s love never dies because God never dies, except when He dies for love.

John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Galatians 2:20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Acts 20:28
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

What someone is willing to pay determines the value of a thing. He estimated us to be worth His own blood while we were yet sinners![5] This is the most counterintuitive part of the romance, the aspect of love we most easily forget – the truth we find hardest to believe. Somehow, after having put our faith in Christ we begin to deceive ourselves into thinking that His love is determined by our actions – what we do – instead of being driven by His character, who He is. In romantic terms, ours is not the story of the virginal beauty who captivated the hero’s heart to do mighty deeds to win our affections. No, we were the used and abused prostitute that was loved beyond reason by the kindhearted man who gave away all he had to take us out of the brothel because he could bare for us to be with no other.

Song of Songs 2:4

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

Love is the standard set over us, the deepest mark of our identity. God is love. We are loved. His banner is the cause of His crusade. His banner is the covering over our corruption. His banner is the binder of our brokenness. His banner is love and it covers us in all space and time. It protects us from all enemies: past, present, and future.

Romans 8:38-39
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I often find it helpful to draw out descriptions I want to understand more fully. Unfortunately, I’m not that talented of an artist and would have difficulty drawing any pictures of death, life, angels, principalities, powers, or any other creatures for that matter. But thankfully, tools with which to drawn timelines and charts are readily available and if you will bear with me a little in my folly, I’ll attempt to illustrate some of these truths.

Reread the verses from Romans above and think about the things listed as enemies of the love of God or pathways for hate to pull us away from Him. In particular, I want to focus on the pathways within the space-time continuum: present and future, height and depth.[6]

The first diagram shows that no event in time can get between us and God because He loved us before time began and will love us forever.

Slide1

When we accepted Christ’s sacrifice of love, our past sins were forgiven and no present or future sin can keep us from Him.

The second diagram attempts to illustrate that the two-dimensional attacks from height or depth are woefully inadequate to overcome the four dimensional reality of God’s love.

Slide2

Unfortunately, the breadth, length, depth, and height of the love of Christ has been represented with a three dimensional facsimile of a cube. If you unfolded a cube onto a two dimensional plane, you would have a cross of six rectangles. Paul’s description of Christ’s love in Ephesians 3:18 uses four spatial dimensions. This is hard for us to imagine. But if you unfolded a four-dimensional “cube” into three-dimensional space, you would have a cross of six cubes. Folded back up, they might be conceived as the hyper-cube of God’s love shown below.

hyper love cropped

Romans 8 tells us of attacks that can come to us from two time frames: present and future. Both of these are outflanked by the protective love of God which was extended to us before the foundation of the world and will be poured out on us for all eternity. The Apostle also mentions attacks that can come from two spatial directions: above and below. But God’s love covers us above, below, from the side, and beyond. We have more pathways of escape to God’s love than the enemy has approaches to us with temptations to hate.

1 John 4:7-11
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

May His boundless love be shared among us and may it carry us always into His presence.

[1] 1 John 4:8, 16
[2] 1 John 1:5
[3] Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18; 1 John 1:5-7
[4] All references are from the King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.
[5] Romans 5:8
[6] The past is also represented, but was surely dealt with. See Rom 5:5-10.

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