When we say, somewhat glibly, that God is love, what are we really saying? God loves us. Yes. But more than that, he loves us with an unconditional, unchanging outpouring of love and affection, support and invitation to be in a deep relationship with him, an invitation to step into the fullness of who we were created to be—to fulfill our purpose, to fulfill our purpose with love, and thereby to bring in the kingdom here on earth.
Beyond his love for us, the apparently most complex of his creations, his love is the currency of the universe, it is the dynamic, it is the inter-relational nature of all creation, it is the end-all and be-all of the entire creation. It is the relationship between predator and prey. For example, the lions do not wipe out the herds of antelopes. They do tend to nab the old and the very young, perhaps the sick. So they actually make the herd healthier, faster. The eagles don’t eat up all the fish. The predators need to eat, and they are provided for. The preying upon also are provided for—they have speed or safety in herds or horns, some measure of self-defense.
Love is not protection from difficult challenges either in the plant or animal kingdom, but it is built into the whole system that each will be taken care of—food, shelter and other needs in just the form each single species needs. And love is presence, God’s presence with his creation, his ongoing relationship with all of it.
Love is not just caring for another person as we humans project it to be. It is an eternal flow of positivity out from the Creator to every plant, animal, insect, rock and more on this planet. Love not only set the universe into motion, but it continues to serve the needs of all the elements, all of nature. It is a web, a structure that serves, that supports, that continues life in all that is. And who knows? Maybe God is still creating species of plants and animals.
Love is static and dynamic. It is a constant and it changes. It seeks out everything—creature, human, plant and rock to envelop, to enhance, to provide. It is like an ever-flowing fountain. And apparently Love loves variety and diversity; for example, there are
350,000 species of beetles
110,000 species of flies
20,000+ species of orchids
13,000 species of ferns
1500+ species of rodents
8 species of bears
2(down from a high of 350) species of elephants.
I am just naming a few different insects, plants, and animals to get us thinking about the huge variety in God’s created world. It seems obvious to me that he delights in the variety, in the interconnectedness, in the web of life that he created. You can look up your favorite type of plant or animal on Google and find out how many species of it exist.
There are about 1.7 million known species on this planet alone and scientist speculate that there are some 6 + million more that we haven’t discovered as yet.
For instance, there’s a mushroom in the tropics which glows at night. At first scientists thought it was a side-effect of some process within the mushroom. But as these mushrooms have been studied carefully, the scientists have found that there is a deliberate nature to the luminescence that is turned on at night and off during daylight. So they experimented with a replica, same size and shape as the real one, outfitted with an LED which mimicked the light cycle and covered the fake mushrooms with glue. There were also fake mushrooms with no light also spread with glue. They found that at night the luminescent mushrooms attracted many more insects which would provide food for the insects who would then carry away the spores, thereby spreading the mushrooms around the area.[a report heard on NPR 3.21.15]
Love provides for the mushroom and the insect a providential relationship which serves both the plant’s and the insect’s needs. How many more millions of these interdependent relationships exist in our world? In the universe?
Mostly, we humans don’t think to apply the dynamic of love to creation or to all these species. Mostly, we only see it as how God looks at his most complex creatures, us, or, as a positive dynamic between human beings. But it is clear to me that Love, the unchanging, flowing fountain of approval, flows out equally to all species, all life on Earth and, who knows beyond the Earth?
The implications of this view of love in the world becomes clear as we, too, revel in the millions of species, in the beauty of this world, in the absolute privilege it is to be alive here. It becomes clear when we entertain these possibilities that God also revels in the varieties of peoples in the world, from aborigines to Westerners, from blacks to Asians, from Southern Hemisphere peoples to Northern Hemisphere ones, from Spanish speakers to Bantus, from islanders to mainland peoples.
If we are followers of Jesus who is God, aren’t we to love like he loves, care for others like he did, care about the Earth as our home, revel in the immense variety of species of plants and animals and types of peoples? Who are we to say that we are better than other peoples? Who are we to look down on those with less wealth, education, or anything else? Who are we to judge or condemn another? What does it say about us that we can’t get with the obvious program for creation that is love?
Questions to ponder over the week: What do I know of God’s outpouring of love for his whole creation? Have I felt his love for me or does it remain an abstract concept? What do I need to do to become more loving?
Blessing for the week: May we be so healed through our relationship with the Lord that we are able to love whosoever we meet. May God’s love pour into us and back out of us to the world in the most natural way. May we feel connected to the whole of creation, every plant and every creature, every human being. In faith and love, Pat
If you’d like to see more of By the Waters, check these out:
–There’s a new video up on YouTube: “The First Four Commandments ”youtube.com/user/patsadams
–Check out my twitter feed at twitter.com/BTWwithPatAdams
–Check out the “Shop Now” at the top of this page which links to a CD of guided meditations designed to help deepen your spiritual life and a series of booklets on the Life of the Spirit.
–Order individual tracks of the CD at cdbaby.com/cd/PatAdams1