Love Is What God Is
One would think that of all the places to find a definition of God, the Bible would be the first place to look. Yet John was the only writer in the Bible to define God, and he used only three words to define the Undefinable: "God is love" (1 Jn. 4:8). How simple. How succinct. How complete. How utterly perfect! God is love.
Love, then, is not a toy of human caprice—something we can trot out and use and then take back and put away when we are finished with someone. Love is a divine activity. It is a cosmic force, a spiritual gift. It is a part of our life just as the ocean is part of the fish. As long as the fish swims in the ocean, the ocean sustains it and nurtures it and renews it because the fish is taking in ocean for life and renewal. The fish is part of the ocean, and the ocean is part of the fish.
Love is God's ocean, and we live and move and have our being in that ocean. Love is God's energy, and when we let love direct us, we let God direct us and we become part of the divine energy of God.
Without Love, We’re Nothing
Paul spoke eloquently about love. He said: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor. 13: 1). In other words, no matter what I say, unless it resonates through the channel of love, it's only noise! It is meaningless.
Paul went on to say, "And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:2).
How powerful those words are. They state that love is the single most important faculty we have. It is the hub of all good that is in us. Nothing else matters in our lives if we are loving.
Love Doesn’t Need a Focus
Love can be felt for another, but love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person. In other words, it does not need an object on which to focus. It's like a powerful floodlight which brightens an entire room, rather than a flashlight which illuminates only where it is pointed.
Love is an attitude which determines how we relate to the world. If we love one person and are indifferent to the rest, we are like the spotlight. This is not love, but a dependent attachment to something that makes us temporarily feel good.
Yet most of us have believed that love begins with an object to love, rather than its being an indwelling faculty to be lived. If we don't see love as an activity of our spirit, then we can easily believe that all that is necessary to express love is to find the right object. This attitude is like the person who wants to learn to paint but won't take art lessons, claiming that when the right scene is found, he or she will paint it perfectly.
The fact is that we don't need "the right person" in order to express love. When you truly love one person, any person, you are able to love all people. You love the world and, most importantly, you know that you love yourself. If you say to somebody, "I love you," then you are saying, "I love God, I love myself, I love everyone."
The power that is love begins with God, to be sure, but we need to accept that love as our own before it can be sent to someone else. This is true self-love, and this type of self-love is not ego-centered. It is, in fact, anchored in the greatest of humility because only in loving self can we act as clear conduits for God's love. The more we accept God's love, the more we allow it to pass on to others.
Loving others is impossible until we love ourselves.
Also, without a love of ourselves, there is no "baseline" to measure other love. Without a love of ourselves, we feel unworthy of any other love. "After all," we reason, "if I can't love myself, how can I expect anyone else to love me?" Only when you can love yourself can you remove the obstacles to the expansion of yourself.
Too often, however, we consider ourselves unworthy of love and therefore are not able to express love. The danger is that when we believe ourselves to be empty of love, we look for someone to love us to "fill the void." When we look to someone for love, we fail to experience true love. It is only when we release the love we have accepted for ourselves that we experience love.
Our Need to Love
There is an innate need in each of us to express love. The inability to express love is a common cause of our problems. We see this in children and teens who have been deprived of love. We see it in adults who spend their lives looking for approval and acceptance. Neither the children nor the adults know how to accept love, and so neither can adequately express love. They stop growing because of the fact that as human beings our soul's growth depends on how much of God's love we can accept. When we stop accepting love, we stop growing.
All You Need Is Love
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." It is probably the only commandment we have to know.
If you feel you are out of practice, that you have trouble expressing love, know that love is not something you have to master, but only allow. There is something you can practice over and over again, however, and that is the decision to love. Make up your mind to love, and then let love do what love will.