God, the jilted lover (@TheAlethiophile)

Love is a complicated thing.lovegod

We often hear the phrase “God is love” given as a pithy answer, an unthinking shortcut to a question we might not care to think about too hard. What sort of an answer is it? It’s an answer that stirs up all sorts of thoughts in different people, depending on how they have loved, how they’ve been hurt, how they’ve been shown love and how they’ve hurt others.

What it isn’t, is straightforward. To say that “God is love” is not a simple answer and requires unpacking from that rich, dense phrase, embodying action, emotion, a ferocity of determination and a near unspeakable ache of longing after another.

The tempestuous of human relationships is echoed throughout the book of Hosea, with its imagery of Israel as an unfaithful lover. This is brought to earth prophetically with the command to Hosea to marry a prostitute  and to even name one of his children Lo-ammi, meaning “Not my people” as a way of God telling Israel “You are not my people.” The intended depth of hurt that this is intended to strike must not be lost. Israel’s entire identity was that of God’s chosen people. Here, God is shunning them for their unfaithfulness.

In a modern setting, some might see it as a kind of blocking action on Facebook or Twitter. If you’ve ever done that to someone who’s hurt you, you might well know what I mean when I speak of the temptation to unblock and see how they’re getting on.

God doesn’t keep Its back turned on them forever. We are reminded again of a promise:

“…where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people’, it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God.'”

The book is full of calls to repentance, of assurances of faithful love, of judgement. This is all a rather fraught tale, where it seems as though God is wrestling with the issue of how much Israel can sin before they reach the point of no return. The answer, as it turns out, is that God will always be faithful. It’s not a carte blanche on Israel, but God’s love is such that a way for reconciliation will be found:

“I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.”

We have just marked the Easter weekend, where the ultimate expression of this love, this tortuous and fathomless love, was wrought with blood, sweat and tears. Love it most certainly is, but simply it certainly isn’t.

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About TheAlethiophile

The Alethiophile is a blogger, bibliophile and accountant. Constantly looking for truth, he is quite often wrong. Having grown up in an evangelical baptist church in Bedfordshire, he is currently part of an Ichthus church in London. He is also fond of wearing stripey socks.