God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. - 1 John 4:16
When I was a kid, I remember there was a popular illustrator who created "precious moments" pictures of scruffy little wide-eyed children with sentimental sayings below them. They made greeting cards and posters and stickers and all kinds of things with these illustrations, and they were very popular - and to me - pretty sappy. Whenever I think of someone saying "God is Love" I get the sense that it should be on a precious moments card. "God is love" was a popular bumper sticker when I was a kid, too. And bumper stickers, the sound bytes of an earlier era, always strike me as simplistic. So it's been hard for me to get outside that box of thinking of "God is love" as merely shallow bumper sticker wisdom.
But, we all know love when we feel it. I'm not talking about the kind of butterflies in the stomach you get when you 'fall in love' as much as the intense, almost ache of poignancy you feel when you witness true love in action. I'm talking about the kind of love that Paul describes - the kind that is patient and kind, that is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. That does not insist on its own way, and is not irritable nor resentful. the kind of love that does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth - that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and never ends. This kind of selfless love is a tremendous "Yes" to life that is the opposite of fear and hatred. This kind of selfless love that sacrifices for what is right and embraces life as it really is.
Even if only in glimpses, most of us have experience this kind of love. And when we as Christians say that this - THIS - is what God IS, that is amazing - and not simplistic at all. In fact, it's rather deep. Because what that means is that God is not up on some cloud judging whether or not we're loving correctly. God is right here among and between us when we love one another selflessly. It means we can resurrect God's self, re-member God, when we love one another. Because God IS love. And in that full love IS God. And when we love fully, we abide right in God, and God abides right in us. God is as close as our own breath, our own words, our own actions, our own heartbeat. That is a powerful idea - that God is not separate from us at all, but made incarnate and real among us. It is a powerful idea that we don't have to look far and take long pilgrimages to find God, because God is right here waiting to blossom already.
So I pray that as people of faith, we trust in the power of God to cast out fear among us and replace it with love. And I pray that as people of faith we do more than just put on bumper stickers, but strive to bring love into this broken world by sharing God's love with others.