1 John 4:8, Mark 3:17, Luke 9:53-54, 1 John 4:20, 1 John 4:16

Ian Henderson
Ian Henderson

Like most people I have a facebook account. I did this for 2 reasons:

  • I wanted to stay in touch with my friends:
    My mates used to send texts saying "anyone fancy going to the pictures on Friday to watch ROCKY 14: ULTIMATE ZIMMER FRAME FIGHTER" now they only send invites on facebook. I was starting to wonder why I was never going out!
  • I wanted to connect with my old friends:
    Had the spotty girl at school grown up to become a professional model- just like in all the 80s movies I watched as a kid?- No, she hadn't. She married a guy call Brian and lives in Basingstoke.

So basically it was about being connected. When I set up my account I had to fill in all those describe yourself type questions. You know- likes, dislikes, fav film, current length of toenails. I hate this kind of thing, I always find it difficult to sum myself up in a few sentences. But I gave it a bash, my profile page was complete and it wasn't long before I got emails telling me that someone poked me, thrown a sheep at me or bought me a drink (sadly this is just a picture of a drink sitting on my facebook homepage- ummm refreshing!) As much as I dislike the 'describe yourself questions', if people are going to 'connect', even if it's by throwing a virtual sheep, it helps if they know what I'm like. I know that God loves to connect with us, so I began to wonder how God would describe Himself on facebook. A lot of my mates would think it looks like this.

Likes: good people or anyone who goes to church, preferably if they look bored the whole time.
Interests: making stuff, getting cross with sinners
Music: anything by Cliff Richard

Maybe not how we'd describe God? But what would you say?

The most daring statement that has been made in human language is not "it's cheeko time!" but "God is Love" (1 John 4:8). The statement is profound because it doesn't just say THAT God loves but that he is defined AS love. In other words, if God was writing his facebook profile everything would say LOVE! Do we really believe that? If I struggle to sum myself up in a few sentences, can we really define God himself in 1 word?....LOVE

Be honest, if your friends asked you to describe God, is the first word you'd say LOVE? Maybe it is, but somewhere along the line people have heard different words too. GOD IS...power, GOD IS...rules, GOD IS...justice, God IS...democracy, God IS...prolife, GOD IS...prosperity, GOD IS...war. You get the picture, our society has become drenched in definitions of God, many of which are conflicting and confusing. Even Johns bold statement can be confusing unless we know what LOVE is. IF your friends have a warped view of love then they will have a warped view of God and visa versa.

The statement tells us that God is LOVE but it is the cross that unpacks the meaning. As Eugenia Price says in Share My Pleasant Stones, "God's mercy was not increased when Jesus came to earth, it was illustrated! Illustrated in a way we can understand." Or as John V. Taylor puts it in his thoughtful book on the crucifixion, Weep Not for Me, "The crucified Jesus is the only accurate picture of God the world has ever seen."

John had seen that picture of God- close up. He had stood, as Jesus only a foot above him suffered and died, did something in John change? Had his view of love changed? Had his view of God changed? Mark 3:17 says this:

"James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder)" (Mark 3:17.)

You can imagine an 80s heavy metal band being called "SONS OF THUNDER" but why did Jesus give his two mates this nickname? They were fishermen not weathermen. In the gospels James and John come across as being hardcore, fired up, passionate, 100% committed and maybe didn't have a lot of time for anyone who wasn't as mad for it as they were. Check what Luke says:

"...The people of the village refused to have anything to do with Jesus. When James and John heard about it, they said to Jesus, "Lord, should we order down fire from heaven to burn them up" (Luke 9:53-54) Jesus pulls them up on this, they had lots of zeal but not much love.

But after the cross and resurrection, John the church planter, John the evangelist earns a new nickname. By the time he has penned GOD IS LOVE, John himself is known as the apostle of Love. Had John gone soft? Had the son of thunder downgraded to a brother of breeze? His nickname might have changed but John was still just as hardcore! "If anyone says, 'I love God' yet hates his brother, he is a liar (1 John 4:20) - wow John tell us what you really think! Don't beat around the bush! John is passionate about Christians living lives of love and words aren't enough! Jesus didn't just say "God loves you" he put those words into action and "laid down his life for us" (1 John 4:16) John had seen GOD and what he saw was LOVE.

God doesn't have a facebook so it up to us, his friends, to poke (or even superpoke) anyone who wants to connect with Him with deeds of love. Who could you show love and reveal God to, today?  CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.