God’s Will is Love
February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Just how is it, as some say, that “God is Love”? Ascribing anthropomorphic attributes to God, such as the emotion of Love, doesn’t seem sensical. It appears naïve to suppose that God, the All-Mighty, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, whose works display design, intelligence, and purpose, would feel, express, or manifest such an entirely irrational feeling. Admittedly, Love is a great thing – it allows us to shed of our self-centered perceptions of people and things, thereby providing for the impetus to be of service to others. But Love doesn’t seem to be the underlying and governing principle of the world – what about rational qualities like Equality, Justice, and Truth? These appear to be values that God as Divine Intellect would more likely rely upon in his Creation, Sustenance, and Guidance of the world.
Of course, this skeptical viewpoint equates God with Mind, which is not entirely accepted by everyone. For some truly believe that God is Love. They point out God’s Mercy and Grace. These are generally believers through faith, not reason. But are the two approaches compatible on this point? Like other spiritual questions I am beginning to try to answer, I believe that they are. Of course, I initially approached the matter from a rational standpoint alone. But to my surprise, the conclusion reached was, in fact, that God is Love.
In this Blog’s prior “Introduction” Page, I mentioned that after becoming comfortable with belief in the existence of God, I then determined the next big question to address was why? He Created. Certainly this wasn’t to derive any benefit to Himself. As Unlimited and Perfect Being, He lacks nothing and, therefore, desires and seeks nothing. I concluded instead that God’s Purpose for Creating was simply to be known. This was a huge breakthrough for me as it provided an answer to the age old question of “What is the meaning of life?”. This was great progress but I was immediately faced with the next obvious question of “How do I know God?”.
It is possible to know God in several different ways. First, I can know Him in the sense that I understand what are God’s Attributes and Qualities and what these mean. This I dubbed the “Quantitative Approach” as it addressed purely the factual and armed me with no useful or practical knowledge to help determine right living or a way of life (see Introduction). For example, the theistic view of God is that, among other attributes and qualities, He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent. God is also described as Merciful and Just. These descriptions are awe-inspiring and rightfully garner my reverence and respect. But they seem to be the realm of knowledge for knowledge’s sake. What I was more concerned with was what this knowledge meant to establishing and developing my purpose in life – to know God. This represented my “Qualitative Approach” in that it addressed the existential and required me, based on His Attributes and Qualities, to respond with certain thoughts and actions in daily life. For example, and as mentioned previously, when considering the contingency and non-necessity of Creation in general and my existence in specific, God’s Mercy is apparent. But for his Creative Power, nothing would exist. Yet God derives no benefit from His Act of Creation. This observation not only to calls for gratitude on my part, but obligates me, likewise, to act mercifully towards others. In this sense, coming to know God can be equated with thinking and acting God-like in emulation and imitation of Him. With my Quantitative and Qualitative framework in mind, and my focusing on the latter, it wasn’t long before I realized that striving to be God-like was, in a sense, “loving God”. He was the object of my thought and action; the goal of my pursuit of right action and living; the end of my being.
In what other sense might it be considered that God is Love? Expanding upon the idea that Creation is unnecessary and in no way benefits Him, it became clear that His Creative Act is manifested givingly, selflessly, and unconditionally. These qualities, I think, very accurately and succinctly summarize Love. God’s gift of Creation, Life, Family, Friends, and Opportunities establish Love as the foundation of my being. To think and act with this in mind is the only way to fulfill an authentic and meaningful existence consistent with God’s Will.
Another consideration concerning God’s as Love is mysticism and those who have had some type of direct experience of Him. Although not rational grounds for knowledge of God due to their subjective and irrational character, the qualities of these experiences can still be evaluated by reason. Unfortunately, I have never had such an experience but the consensus of those who have been so lucky is that one of their trademark characteristics is of an all-pervasive and unbounding feeling of Love. While also characterized as episodes of ineffable noetic Oneness, the most profound and life changing take-away of those who have had a direct experience of God is its Loving quality. The feelings of Love related by these individuals are commonly responsible for life altering personality changes due to a renewed perspective of the world and their reciprocal desire to act according to their new insights into the nature of reality. Thus, Love’s overwhelming presence and meaning as a part of mystical experience and its consequent impact on an individual’s actions should undoubtedly be given consideration when describing God as Love.
My rational handling of the idea that God is Love has led to my belief in the concept. When evaluated alongside my new-found faith in Christianity, I am encouraged that the conclusion is consistent regardless of the means employed. The cornerstone of Christianity is Love – God’s and Christ’s Love of me and I of them, Love of the Church, my Love of Family, Friends, and Love all of Creation as testament to the Creativity and Goodness of God. Regarding the concept that God is Love, I was able, through reason, to assent to its truth. This truth is consistent with that of faith, although I realize that it will sometimes be necessary to first believe faithfully before employing reason to more fully understand.