“This Son is a god who spent most of His time telling stories, talking. This Son is a god who walked, a pedestrian god – and in a hot place, at that – with a stride like any human stride, the sandal reaching just above the rocks along the way; and when He splurged on transportation, it was a regular donkey. This Son is a god who died in three hours, with moans, gasps and laments. What kind of god is that? What is there to inspire in this Son? Love, said Father Martin.” – The Life of Pi
I’ve watched some of my closest friends do a lot of stupid stuff in the name of “love.” In middle school, one intentionally injured herself simply so that her mom would take care of her. In high school, one refused a full ride scholarship to her dream college so that she would not move away from her boyfriend. In college, one gave herself to several guys before marriage in order to keep them around longer.
Each of these friends would claim that they acted out of their desire for love. The problem is that they were looking for an unbiblical picture of love. Merriam Webster defines “love” as 1) a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (and skipping #2-3); 4) unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.
When we say that God is love, we do not mean that God merely feels affection for us. I feel affection for my local minor league baseball team. I even cheer them on at our almost-weekly attendance of their games. I am fond of the team. I even have an attachment to them. But nothing more than that.
God has the #4 kind of love for us. As Pi says in his quote, we have a God who died “with moans, gasps and laments.” He asks, “What kind of god is that?” Pi is stuck in his limited perspective. When he hears that God died, he thinks that means God is weak. Rather, it means that God is love. His love is so unselfish that He died in our place.
God’s love is more than mere attachment. It’s devotion; it’s the kind of love that keeps loving even during the most difficult times. It’s the kind of love that loves us even when we don’t love Him back – more strongly – it’s the kind of love that loves us even when we hate Him.