Active Love and the Knowledge of God
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love”
(1 John 4:8).
WE ARE CONSTANTLY REMINDED IN THE SCRIPTURES TO KEEP OUR SEARCH FOR GOD CONNECTED TO OUR DAILY INTERACTION WITH THE PEOPLE AROUND US. Confident answers to our questions about God can’t always be found by philosophical inquiry alone. We have to take our meditations to work with us and weave them into our dealings with other human beings. It is in the giving and receiving of love that truth has its best chance to come to the surface and win our conviction.
In matters that relate to God, there is an interesting “back and forth” that takes place between our THINKING and our DOING. Proper thinking is necessary for proper doing, of course, and we must never forget the primacy of God’s word in determining right conduct. But there is also a sense in which proper doing is necessary for proper thinking. Our thinking and our doing need each other.
With lives that are a bit more concrete, common people seem to find God more easily than do those who’re more sophisticated (Mark 12:37; 1 Corinthians 1:26). For all their lack of philosophical acuity, down-to-earth people do know about one thing: they know about real, practical, everyday LOVE. They know how to love a God whom they’ve not seen because they know how to love other folks whom they HAVE seen. And this is consistent with John’s statement, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
Suppose that I have been agonizing privately over some dark question concerning God. It is entirely appropriate — indeed it is ESSENTIAL — that I search the Scriptures carefully and that I spend much time meditating on the matter. But suppose that after long labor in the realm of study, thought, and even prayer, I am still perplexed. My neighbor cannot cut his grass because he is needed at the bedside of his wife who is dying of cancer. There is at least some likelihood that the answers that have eluded me in the library will come to me in the toolshed as I prepare to do for my neighbor what he needs me to do.
“He who desires to see the living God face to face should not seek Him in the empty firmament of his mind, but in human love” (Feodor Dostoevsky).