God Is Love is the most powerful book in years. It is a must-read for persons of every religion and even for the atheist. It is especially uplifting and inspirational for the marginalized and alienated and everyone who has been condemned at one time or another.
God Is Love definitively answers the age-old questions pertaining to the culpability and eternal fate of those involved in the crucifixion and why the cross was God's chosen mechanism for His loving, salvific plan that includes each and every being of creation.
Through a diversity of religious scripture and textual evidence, God Is Love portrays the true nature of God and establishes the fact that everyone has a place in His heart even when society and/or religious institutions attempt to limit God's love and the power of the crucifixion and resurrection.
After reading God Is Love, your life will be changed forever and even those who have been alienated from God will return to seek refuge in His everlasting agape love. God Is Love provides much-needed love and hope in an era of hate and doubt!
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God is Love
By William Sutherland
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2013 William Sutherland
All rights reserved.
God is Love
"God is love." The concept and reality of God's very essence is so important that it is mentioned not once, but twice in the Bible. Both 1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16 declare "God is love" refuting descriptions rendered by the ancients that viewed Him as vengeful, jealous, demanding, and eager to punish.
God is the Eternal Light – "I am the way, the truth, and the light" [John 14:6], "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation ..." [Psalm 27:1], The Light 24:35"[God] is the Light of the heavens and the earth ..." [Islam], and "God is the Unbounded Light." [Buddhism]
In fact, love is the "manifestation of the Truth" [Bahai'ism] and the sole reason for our existence. Per Evangelical pastor Rick Warren (1954- CE), God, Who is love "... didn't need us. But [H]e wanted us."
"I knew My love for thee ... therefore I created thee ..." [Bahai'ism]
"I AM therefore you are. I AM LOVE – DIVINE LOVE. I [l]ove you with an infinite and therefore perfect [l]ove ... You are [l]oved into being."
"And the LORD God ... breathed into his nostrils the breath of life ..." [Genesis 2:7] And what did God breathe in? Love because "[l]ove is the breath of the Holy Spirit ..." [Bahai'ism: Abdu'l-Bahá (1844-1921 CE), Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá v. 3 1]
"God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." [Romans 5:5]
In reality, everything of God is love because "He is love itself" such that 100% of His being is composed of love! Every Divine particle is love!
Thus, "[t]he Lord created ... because ... Love seeks to make others outside of self happy."
God through His love is compassionate, merciful, and forgiving. His "love permeates all religions." He is not the "God" depicted by ancient writers who attached flawed human characteristics to His Being. The words of St. Augustine (354-430 CE) can attest to this – "God ... our knowledge of [Y]ou is imperfect. In our ignorance we have ... wrongly thought that [Y]ou take pleasure in punishing us for our sins; and we have foolishly conceived [Y]ou to be a tyrant over human life."
Therefore, when scriptural messages, regardless of religion are divisive, ethnocentric, and promote intolerance and discrimination they do not reflect God's true nature of love. Instead, they are merely the product of misinterpretation and subjective perception expressed by imperfect messengers due to human fallibility.
In reality, God unleashed His creative powers as an expression of His infinite love – "God created the world because love needs another to love." [Judaism: Kabbalah] This was immediately evident when God had created the first being based on A Limb Just Moved by Brahmin princess and Hindu mystic Mirabai (1498-1547 CE) – "And You practiced Your love in the hearts of animals before You created man ..."
Furthermore, "Love is the gravity that pulls the universe together." Consequently, with creation in place to love, God gives us an "easy yoke and light burden" [Matthew 11:30] after having offered Himself as the Universal Savior, an act that extends beyond the limits of any single religion or branch of faith and can be described as divine "[l]ove ... of heaven to earth come down," to use the words of Anglican clergyman Charles Wesley (1707-1788 CE). The incarnation was more than the "word made flesh" as described in John 1:14 – it was divine love come to earth in corporeal flesh!
Love was the flesh that suffered through the scourging and crucifixion. Love was the body that died on the cross. Love was the spirit that resurrected.
Why? Because, "[t]here is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends" [John 15:13] and God could not create a single living organism without the prospect of salvation. Because of this, even though God could have granted salvation through any other means, He chose crucifixion on a cross since it consisted of extreme humiliation and suffering prior to death. He wanted to punctuate His love with an exclamation mark! For Him, there was no other way!
"Love suffers ..." [1 Corinthians 13:4]
Love suffers because it is so profound such that real pain is inflicted when it is not reciprocated, is betrayed or its beloved suffers. Yet, in spite of God's eternal agape love, we constantly betray Him through sin or acts of injustice/evil as well as through apathy and indifference (since the latter two constitute a failure to love) because of our weak human nature. Add the number of people who suffer through disaster, disease, or injustice as well as those who reject God through alienation and/or atheism and it gets even worse.
Thus per Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855 CE), a Danish philosopher and theologian, "God is love ... You cannot even remotely imagine how He suffers. For He knows how difficult and painful it is for you. But He can change nothing of it, since otherwise He Himself would have to become something different, something other than love."
Because of this, Plato's (427-347 BCE) words in the Phaedrus resonate – "[L]ove is ... the great divine madness." From an earthly perspective – "The cross is madness. Loving your enemies is madness." Turning the other cheek is madness. But such is the nature of God's love – "[I]t goes beyond logic. If it were perfectly sensible it would be given only to those who deserved it. But ... it flows out freely ..." Consequently, since "God is love" [1 John 4:8 and 16] and "Love is the light of the Kingdom" [Bahai'ism], Italian Jewish philosopher Yochanan Allemano (1435-1504 CE), wrote, "dazzling bright, like the light of the sun, is the sweetness of divine madness."
So when the question is asked – "If God is so powerful, why couldn't He have given salvation some other way?" – Know, the answer is not a mystery except to one who does not or cannot fully grasp even a tiny portion of the depth and magnitude of God's very Being. It is simple. He could have but He did not because it was not about His omnipotent power, might or strength. It was about love! He is love and it was out of love He chose to give of Himself the Universal Savior and thus die on a cross. Otherwise His love would not have been the greatest – a contradiction of the infallible truth, the infinite opposite of His nature, and a denial of His very Self! There is no greater love and that is God Who never stops loving, not even for a moment!
Perhaps this was the inspiration for William Shakespeare (1564-1616 CE) when he wrote in Romeo and Juliet – "My bounty is as boundless as the sea. My love as deep; the more I give to thee, [t]he more I have, for both are infinite."
Besides, despite human connotations that grandeur is associated with power, strength, and might, to the Divine, "Love is where the glory falls" [Sufism: Kh ja Shamsu D n Muhammad H fez-e Sh r z (1325-1389 CE)] because, "'... [M]y thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways [M]y ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [M]y ways higher than your ways, and [M]y thoughts than your thoughts'." [Isaiah 55:8-9]
Per Sufi poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273 CE), "The lover is a king above all kings."
Consequently, it is not surprising that God Who is the greatest Lover as demonstrated through the Universal Savior is not a King above all kings but the King of kings – "On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings ..." [Revelation 19:16]
In fact God's love is so great that "[e]ven the prayers of an ant reach heaven." [Shintoism] No prayer, no matter how insignificant it may appear, is unimportant to God!
Per Pope (St.) John Paul II (1920-2005 CE), God's love "is so great that it goes beyond the limits of human language, beyond the grasp of artistic expression, beyond human understanding."
Likewise, God's love is agape since anything short would limit it. Thus by its very definition, God's love "is pure ... [and] unlimited in its possibilities. [It] is altruistic ... [and] given for its own sake, without expecting anything in return." It is unconditional and extended to "every [living] being" without exception. It is, in the words of Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho (1947- CE), The Pilgrimage – "the love that consumes ... the highest and purest form of love ... a selfless love ..." that per American writer C.S. Lewis (1898-1963 CE), The Four Loves, is "committed to the well-being of ... other[s]." In fact God's love is so ineffably great, He is known as "al-Wadud" or "He who loves" in Islam and "Pure Love" in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.
Per Sufi St. R bi'ah al-Basri (717–801 CE) in The Perfect Stillness, "Love is the ... most profound act, and the word [is] almost as complete as His name." Accordingly, it can be said as written by Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian and founder of The New Church, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772 CE) in Divine Love 2. [3.] II (1762-1763 CE) – "The Lord alone is love itself."
Consistent with Swedenborg's premise, Anglican theologian Oliver C. Quick (1885-1944 CE) wrote, "If we could imagine the love of one who loves men purely for their own sake, and not because of any need or desire of his own, purely desires their good, and yet loves them wholly, not for what at this moment they are, but for what he knows he can make of them because he made them, then we should have in our minds some true image of the love of the Father and Creator of mankind."
Unlike human love, God's love endures all things and "never fail[s] or lose[s] its glory." Furthermore it embraces all of His creation – The Believer40:7 "You embrace all things within Your love ..." [Islam]
"Pen and ink shall pass away, along with what has been written ... [T]he love of God shall never perish." [Sikhism – Sri Guru Granth Sahib]
"O give thanks to the Lord ... for [H]is steadfast love endures forever." [Psalm 136:1]
Per Baptist minister Job Hupton (1762-1829 CE), "What [God] is, [H]e ever was, and ever will be (which is love) ... there can be no variation."
God's eternal nature of love never changes. There is no beginning or end to God's love, which may be described as an eternal well of giving. Why? Because as God is moved by our needs, petitions and emotions (especially pain and suffering), He pours out even more love!
Therefore, "[w]hat are termed the grace, the mercy, the pity, and the kindness of the Lord ... [are merely] many modifications of the manifestation of [H]is love." In fact, every act of God and everything Divine is love!
And as mentioned above, since God is moved by His creation, His love is dynamic. It is responsive to and is "influenced by those who are loved," which means each and every being of creation.
"He was moved with compassion ..." [Matthew 9:36] is just one such example of God being responsive to and influenced by His creation. However, the examples are so numerous they range from infinity (∞) minus 1 to ∞. The former relates to all creation within their natural state that are constrained within a finite number of universes subject to space and time and the latter to life eternal that is not confined by time nor space. Accordingly, per Baptist minister and theologian Augustus Strong (1836-1921 CE) – "God is eternally moved." Out of love, He is moved by our acts, words, needs, insecurities, emotions, and aspirations, the latter, which includes (whether or not we consciously think about it) eternal salvation – the ultimate end to every being's natural existence, which can be and is only possible simply because "God is love." [1 John 4:8 and 16]
At the same time, God's love survives beyond time and space and cannot be limited or reduced by changing society, human words, actions or moral standards nor, in the words of British author, Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008 CE), "collision with the truth" for it is the undeniable, infallible truth. This is why Jesus preached, "[L]ove your enemies" [Matthew 5:44] during his Sermon on the Mount. Even hatred and iniquity directed at the Universal Savior could not limit, reduce or erase the love of God. Divine love burned in Christ's heart and encapsulated every cell in his body, which as the manifestation of God Himself was love itself! Thus Jesus even loved each and every person involved in his crucifixion. He loved Judas Iscariot (c. 1 BCE-33 CE)! He loved Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea from 26-36 CE! He loved Herod Antipas (20 BCE-39 CE), ruler of Galilee and Perea! He loved Joseph Caiaphas, high priest from 18-37 CE! He loved the Sanhedrin that condemned him, the Roman soldiers that mocked and scourged him, drove nails into his body and opened his side with a lance as well as the crowd that jeered him, spit at him and cried out, "Crucify him!" [Mark 15:13] Anything less would have undermined the infallible truth of God's love!
Likewise, God's agape love is the cornerstone of John 3:16-17 – "For God so loved the world, that [H]e gave [H]is only begotten Son ... not ... to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
It is also because of this love that God gave us knowledge such that when used in conformance with His will, it advances technology to enhance medical treatment (e.g. to treat disease as well as to enable the barren to have children), reduces hunger (e.g. through creation of drought-and-pest resistant plants), advances tolerance, ethical, philosophical, and theological understandings and improves standards of living.
Al-Sajdah 32:7 He is the One [W]ho ... Al-Sajdah 32:9 gave you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brains ... [Islam]
Therefore, religion and science need not be antagonistic since science not only seeks to explain how God does things but it actually affirms His very existence and confirms He is the author of all things.
Prior to the "Big Bang," which can be described as an unprecedented and unmatched explosion, there was nothing – an infinite, dark, empty, inert void. Yet the laws of science state something cannot be created from nothing. Add the facts that our universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old and the "Big Bang" created matter, anti-matter and energy that led to the subsequent creation of elements, organic compounds, water and ultimately life itself from the infinite, dark, empty, inert void and there can only be one plausible scientific explanation – God is the singular constant that has always existed separate from all the universes, Who out of love initiated the "Big Bang" to begin creation.
At the same time, when God created humans, the first pair were undoubtedly adults in whom He imparted sufficient knowledge so they could survive. Had it been any different, the results would have been abysmal and humans would have died out in a matter of days, if that long. Just imagine a newborn baby, who is most vulnerable and helpless and you can picture the outcome. Thus the creation of the first man and woman as adults is further proof that God's hand and not some random phenomena of nature is the origin of not only human life, but all life and every particle of matter, anti-matter, and energy.
When considering how God created life, one may use computers as an analogy especially since before they are programmed, they are useless boxes of circuitry.
Since life is vastly more complex than the most advanced computer – its programming language is likewise considerably more complex. While computer language is based on binary code of 0s and 1s, the language of life (DNA) utilizes four base acids – A (adenine), C (cytosine), G (guanine), and T (thymine). Furthermore, while binary code is one-dimensional, life's code is three-dimensional utilizing a double helix whose base pairs determine our every characteristic, trait and most importantly enable us to possess and exercise free will. Thus, DNA in essence, is God's software for life.
Consistent with binary code that is consciously written with a given purpose, God's code too has been carefully, consciously, cognitively, and lovingly created for each living organism. Neither code – binary nor DNA, created itself by chance or by accident, which is further proof that God's hand is responsible for the creation of each and every form of life.
Al-Sajdah 32:9 "[God] shaped him and blew into him from His spirit." [Islam]
A computer analogy may also be used here. When God "blew" love into His creation, He literally powered it on – initiating the metabolic activities of our lives – in the same way we power up a computer by pushing the "on" button.
Furthermore, per St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE), "[s]ince human beings are said to be in the image of God in virtue of their having nature that includes an intellect, such a nature is most in the image of God in virtue of being most able to imitate God ... [He] created both us and the world, and arranged for the former to know the latter" and since it is through science that we "acquire knowledge of ourselves and the world," scientific research and technological advancements are clearly a part of God's loving plan. Why? Because "[l]ove and understanding are indissolubly linked."
Excerpted from God is Love by William Sutherland. Copyright © 2013 William Sutherland. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
God is Love, 1,
Epilogue: Poetry and Haiku, 90,