The Image of Love

 

Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”

It has been said that ever since God created us in His own image, we have more than reciprocated. It would be sad if it weren’t so humorous. We are ever prone to make God look, act, and feel like a human. Greek and Norse mythologies are about gods behaving like men and women, complete with our own petty jealousies, capriciousness, and immorality. To this day, we all project our inconsistencies upon God: God likes the people we like, puts up with the ones we put up with, ridicules the ones we ridicule, and way too often tells us exactly what we want to hear.

The God of the Bible exhibits amazing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control toward a human race that not only distorts His image, but treats people in ways He would never intend. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, God intends to form that kind of love in us, through His Spirit.

God exists as three persons in One. It is a holy mystery. But let us remember: this is the basis for love. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit love each other perfectly. They share a deep and unique fellowship. We imperfectly try to reflect that fellowship in the union of a husband and a wife and in the community of those who believe in Jesus. But we fail—miserably. Yet Jesus’s prayer in John 17 invites us in to the fellowship and the love which the Trinity embodies.

John 17:11, 20-21, 26 “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. . . . My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. . . . I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

We know that “God is love.” (1John 4:8) Love requires a giver and a receiver—and the Trinity makes that possible. But the description of love in 1Corinthians 13 does not fit into the Trinity unless the Trinity encounters some imperfection, some transgression in order for love to be shown as glorious as it truly is.

1Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

There is no cause for the Father to forgive the Son or the Son to forgive the Father. There is no cause for the Holy Spirit to have erased a “record of wrongs” with either one of the other persons in the Trinity. The Trinity thinks, speaks, and acts perfectly—for God is love.

It’s when humans get thrown into the mix that God’s love for imperfect humanity is revealed to be as amazing as it actually is. God is patient with us. He is kind when there is no reason to have been so. He does not boast about these great accomplishments. He does not shame or dishonor us, even when we have been rolling in the muck of our sins. He is always seeking to do good for us. He is not easily angered at us, even though we give him plenty of reasons. The fact that He keeps no record of wrongs boggles the imagination.

The kind of love that God is becomes revealed when the object of that affection does not return the love. In Christ, that’s the image we are called to reflect. We engage with God—the Trinity—when we love others as we are loved. It’s why the Apostle John could write these words: 

1John 4:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God . . .

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