The most fundamental concept in Christianity is the nature of God. What is He like? We must have a correct concept of this or our whole concept of Christianity will be wrong. Is there one characteristic that truly defines who God is? Does every other characteristic of God fall under this main category? I believe it does.
God is love
I believe The highest characteristic of God is love. I believe all the other characteristics of God flows from this highest characteristic. But what is love? Many people seem to think love is a gushy, emotional feeling. Many times if you say God is love, people will immediately say, “yes He is, but you must also remember He is holy and just.” But I believe love is a very different thing than most people believe. Love is both tender and harsh. Many see God as having a split personality; justice in the Old Testament and love in the New Testament. But I believe love and justice are the same thing. They are the same “coin” so to speak? A coin has two sides but is still one coin isn’t it? I think it’s the same with God. God is not divided between justice and love. God is God and the Bible says He is love!
When I think of my earthly father, the first thing that comes to my mind is love. Even though my father was just and punished me when I did wrong, the overlying reason he did so was because he loved me. He was never divided between justice and love, he was just Dad and Dad was love. However, when I was disciplined, I did not interpret it as love! But it was. Sadly, many fathers punish instead of lovingly disciplining their children, and that gives them the wrong impression of their heavenly Father.
Everything God does is filtered through His love. We must realize God loves everyone regardless of what they do. We must see God’s holiness and justice as not the other side of love, but love itself. If your child does something wrong, something that will put he or she on a path of destruction, the most loving thing you can do is discipline them. And depending on the offense, it may be a very harsh discipline, one that hurts both you and your child, but one that has to be done because of love. What I’m saying is many times love will look harsh and even terrifying, but it has to be that way for that is the true nature of love.
Seeing love in this way will automatically give justice and holiness its proper due, because love is those things. God is not a schizophrenic. He does not have two sides, but only one, and that is love. Many times we see God’s nature as divided between love and justice because we really don’t understand the nature of true love, God’s love. If we don’t understand this concept, we will never understand God, and our Christianity will never have its proper foundation. God loves us with a tender love but also with a terrifying one!