For most of my life, I have viewed Love as an emotion that both we and God have, and actions growing out of that emotion. I saw it as something we “do” to one another and something God “does” to us. Going back to the cookie analogy, I saw Love as being just another ingredient that makes up the cookie. In other words, I used to put Love in the same category as patience, kindness, forgiveness, and all the other things we think of that make up what God “does.”
But recently, I have come to see Love from a different perspective, one I believe gets closer to the Truth. And the light went off one day while I was reading what I call the “Rosetta Stone Verse” of God.
For those unfamiliar with the Rosetta Stone, it’s a stone that was discovered in the late eighteenth century, and has a decree from an ancient king inscribed upon it in three different languages: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and ancient Greek. Prior to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, archeologists had no idea how to read the hieroglyphs inscribed on Egyptian artifacts. But after discovering this stone, they figured out that it had the same message written in three different languages. By using ancient Greek, archeologists were able to translate what the Egyptian hieroglyphs said for the first time. By understanding one language, they were able to figure out the other two.
I took a long look at what Paul tells us about Love in 1 Corinthians 13 and came to realize that what he was describing wasn’t a feeling we experience. His beautiful words don’t describe an emotion at all. Rather, what Paul is defining is God! Things like “patient . . . kind . . . not easily angered . . . keeps no records of wrongs . . . not self-seeking . . . rejoices in truth”—that’s God, not an emotion. And if we take out the word “love” and insert “God,” the message still reads true:
God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. God is not rude, He is not self-seeking, and is not easily angered. God keeps no record of wrongs. He does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. God never fails.
Can we do this? Does the Bible contain an authorization that allows us to insert “God” for “Love?” I believe so. John tells us that God is Love several times in the fourth chapter of his first book. And if we believe him—that they are one and the same—then I believe we can pull out “Love” and insert “God” and the verse will still read true. In other words, Love becomes the “ancient Greek” on the Rosetta Stone that helps us to understand who God is.
This is a game changer! Instead of Love being just another ingredient of the cookie, Love is the entire cookie because God is the entire “cookie”! Love is greater than all of the other ingredients, like kindness, patience, perseverance, forgiveness, humbleness, righteousness, etc., because all those ingredients make up what Love is. Love is the summation of everything because God is the summation of everything!
When I saw Love in this manner, all that Christ and the disciples and the prophets spoke of started coming together for me: God, how to come to know Him, heaven, hell, the summation of the Law, the fulfillment of the Law, the message of the prophets, the bond between us all, the Truth, the Way, the Life, the cross, the reason He came into this world, the beginning and the end. All of it comes back to—all of it can be summed up by—this one word: Love. And why shouldn’t it? If it all came from God, and God is Love, then everything can claim to have Love as its source.
Who is God? What must we come to know in order to know God? What is the kingdom of Heaven? What sums up God’s law that all the prophets spoke to? What is the source of the universe and all that exists? What binds us to God and to one another? Why did He come into our world? What gives us eternal life? What is the great beginning and the ultimate end? Is there something truly universal that we can come to know, answering all of these questions?
Love and Spirit says there is, presenting one word that could explain everything. It lives in the hearts of all people, waiting to be discovered, nurtured, and understood: love.
About the Author
Tom Martin is a captain for a major airline. He has never attended seminary, nor does he hold any degrees in theology that would make him an expert on God. He is simply a seeker—just like you.
Tom married his high school sweetheart, and they currently live on a lake in Minnesota.