Have you ever considered Love to be holy? It is not uncommon to think of love as sacred or pure, or romantic, enduring, everlasting… but holy?
In the book of 1st John at chapter 4 it states, “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
The author is making a claim. God is Love. So, if God is love, does this not also mean that love is holy? Yes, we can make this conclusion. Which leads to the next question. How is love holy? To understand the question let us look at how God loves.
How does God love? For many people when they investigate scripture, they see many individual trees. Many individual statements or examples of how God presents God’s self. For instance, there are some places in the old testament that God can seem angry and vengeful, but there equally many places where God is compassion and justice. We can see these individual trees and become so preoccupied with that one type of tree, we forget that each tree is only a sliver of the whole forest.
If, however we could take a step back and look at the forest, something amazing begins to happens. We recognize that the forest is filled with not just different trees, but with different foliage, and animals, sounds and colors. The forest become the place where we can see most clearly that God’s love has a pattern to it. Yes sometimes the forest get damaged, because sin happens, but the forest always grows. The forest is always filled with new life. The forest is always regenerating. The forest is brimming with diversity. What may see like death in the forest is actually a place of new beginning.
The is true of God also. If we were to step back and look at the expanse of the bible, what we see is that God, created in love, because of sin God offers correction in love, and finally God restores in love. We see that across the expanse of the bible there is beautiful diversity into which the plan of renewal through God’s love is the major them.
So just what does Holy Love look like. It looks like growth or renewal. It looks like creating new spaces for life to happen. It looks like forgiveness. It looks like consideration and generosity. It is this Holy Love that sustains us and reminds us that Holy Love is a place of understanding and peace, not of blame, shame, or accusations. Maybe we forget this as a society, because it is common for fear, blame, shame and accusations to take center stage almost everywhere, but the author of 1st John is also quick to remind us.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”
In other words, holy love is not about punishment, but about embrace. Embracing God with all we’ve got, not being afraid to love God with all of ourselves. Embracing God’s plan of renewal, trusting God to provide and grow the forest as God sees fit. Embracing others around us, and loving them with the Holy love, God has graciously given to us.
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God. The Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. The second is this. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:29-31