Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday's Meditation: Hearing the Symphony

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ~ 1 John 4:8

Three simple words: “God is love.” What could be easier? John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, has given us the key to understanding God. A second-grader could create this sentence. All we need to know about the Creator is captured in nine letters, but these nine letters require supernatural insight, or we are forever trapped in an earth-bound idea of God.

Try describing the sound of a symphony orchestra to someone who has only heard a piano and you’ll begin to see the challenge of understanding the revelation in this verse. We are sure we know all about love: the love between husband and wife, between parent and child, the love between lifelong friends. These are wonderful experiences, but only shadows before the dawn.

When we read "God is love," it’s easy to apply our notions of love to Him. Because we have experienced some taste of love we are tempted to think God conforms to our definition of love--but he does not conform to some definition, he is love. He is the definition.

This is part of the challenge of knowing God, and our meditation for the week: what if the things we think we know keep us truly knowing? What if because we have heard the sound from a piano we convince ourselves that’s all there is to know about music? Without choosing to do so we think God conforms to our image. I know all about love, therefore I know all about God. We would never speak these words outright, but our mind has done the math all the same. We impose our categories on God rather than allowing him to provide the eternal meaning.

When the scriptures say “God is love” it's an invitation to discover love in him. This week I’m going to put my understanding in the tomb and wait to see what love looks like when it’s resurrected.


  1. Well said Ray. And God is able to overcome the false notions of love that pollute our minds.

  2. Ray, I "love" this post..hahahaha!! But really, I have been on this journey recently to accept and walk in the HIS love for me so that I can have a better understanding of who He is. I love the illustration of the piano vs an orchestra (or being color blind verses seeing the rainbow of colors around us). Thanks for this insightful post!

  3. Beautiful post. It's exciting when we are able to move out of a one-dimensional "view" of God's love.

    Your musical comparison... trying to describe a symphony to someone who's only ever heard a piano... reminded me of the scene in "Mask" when Rocky was describing to Laura Dern's blind-character (her name escapes me) what colors look like. He put cotton balls in her hands for white, cold rocks for blue, and hot rocks for red.

    A seriously good word, Ray!

  4. Thanks to all three of you!

    Ed, I think even our best notions of love fail us when we first try to understand his love. It's not so much pollution as it is the temporal approaching the eternal.

    Lindsey, I think our determination to experience is his love first-hand may (perhaps) be the only way to truly understand his love.

    Amy, I had completely forgotten the scene in MAsk, but what a great example--thanks!

  5. Well said Ray. And God is able to overcome the false notions of love that pollute our minds.