So you open your favorite media site and see the morning fill in the blank: GOD IS _____. Then you open your email and the first one is the same fill in the blank: GOD IS _____.
You then open your morning devotional and guess what? Same fill in the blank: GOD IS ____.
Since you find yourself wondering what your answer should be, you try to do a little research in your Bible, only to discover that the phrase “GOD IS” is used 163 times, 52 of them in the NT. So what is the right answer? GOD IS what?
The apostle John might be able to help us here. In his first epistle, John fills in the blank with the most popular answer in the minds of most Christians and non-Christians alike: GOD IS LOVE. He penned those words twice:
1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:16 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.”
So then the correct answer to the fill in the blank is GOD IS LOVE, right? Well, as one tv sports announcer says, “Not so fast.” Consider carefully 1 John 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” At the very beginning of John’s first epistle, 65 verses before he fills in the blank with “God is love,” he reminds his readers that “God is light.” Hummm.
Now it isn’t a matter of which one is true; they are both true. So what then is the point? In our modern world, especially in the Church, “God is love” is used like the quick-draw technique of a gun fighter. Christians can’t wait to tell everyone, “God is love”, “God is love”, “God is love”. What about all of the other “God is” in the NT? Here they are: God is-one, truthful, spirit, faithful (3 times), wise, strong, one, just, consuming fire, light and love (2 times). So which of these is the right answer? They all are! God is all of these and much more.
So once again, what is the point? I believe that we need to learn a lesson from why John, in his first letter, started with “God is light” and then later brought up “God is love.”
The lesson can best be seen in a “salvation bear” that I use to witness to others and handout to kids. I’ve named him SAL, the salvation bear; I buy them at Oriental Trading. He comes with a tag, explaining his various colors. The reason I use him and not some of the other available items made for witnessing, is that his tag begins with his yellow right leg, which stands for God is light, God is holy.
If the first words a lost person learns are “God is love”, they will normally be very excited, but their view of God will still be totally skewed. Most unbelievers view a loving God as one who accepts me like I am, with me still making my own decisions for my life. Nothing could be further from truth. But if an unbeliever first leans about the holiness of God and the reality of their sinful life, then the “God is love” comes from the One who will wash away my sins and be in charge of my life.
So try starting with “God is light” and spend some time there, learning and helping others learn about a holy God, who has no darkness in Him at all and who wants to cleanse your darkness away from you and lead you into a life of walking in the light. God bless.
Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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