Do we believe God can be love without love being God? How, if that is the case, does this verse make any sense? (4:7)…let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (4:8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. A read and study of the rest of the verses in chapter four lead only to the conclusion professed in today’s sign.
If we believed God is love, then love would remain unfettered. We would never strangle it with knots of matrimony, but trust love to remain true and never wander away or die in a fit of dispassion. We would honor love as the highest prize this world can offer, the glory of all that glows in beauty, that cannot be bought with any wealth, but awaits the zeal of the humble and even the poor to dedicate themselves to honor and perform in love’s true service.
If we believed God is love, then we would know the only true love is that which stirs the passions toward goodness and kindness, justice, honor, faithfulness, honesty, caring, and all else that exemplifies concern for the well-being of others and their concern for us. For, by what other behavior could we demonstrate love, but by doing that which shows it as a habit developed by its practice, and by the hugs and kisses freely shared without reserve with all who inhabit our lives.
By what standard of love do we judge who others are worthy of our attention, and who others deserve only our disregard? By what bitter standard do we wall ourselves away from one another, and they condemn us and we condemn them? By what law were we granted that right?—even of our own countrymen and women? The law that admonishes, “Judge not”?
It is true that hatred is espoused by the Bible and exemplified throughout its content, and that many, maybe most of its readers, take their lessons from those particular pages. When members of other religions follow that pattern, the worship of what, if we take a lesson from this pair of verses in the context in which we find them, must exemplify evil as described in the later verses. If that is true, and if what is true of other religions must also be true of us, be we believers or infidels, then blood from intolerance stains our own hands as surely as if we had swung the death dealing blades consigned to others.