He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8)
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
Correct theology is important. And yet, according to Jesus, it is by our love for one another that all will know that we are His disciples. In 1 John 4:8, we read that God is love. Theology is something that is about God, but love is something that God is. If we do not have love for one another, I wonder how correct our theology actually is. John puts it bluntly: “He who does not love does not know God.”
Truth is important, and, indeed, Jesus said that He is the truth. This shows us that truth is not merely propositional but personal — that is, it is revealed to us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Theology, as we usually speak of it, is propositional. In that respect, then, correct theology (propositions about Jesus) is not necessarily the same thing as the Truth (Jesus Himself), just as a map is not the terrain it represents.
Love, however, is not merely a proposition about Jesus. Love is what Jesus is. And it is when we love one another that we demonstrate that we have not merely learned about Jesus but have learned Jesus Himself. For when we love one another, we are displaying who Jesus is in a way that correct theology never can.
Theology is not God and God is not theology. A man may know correct doctrine about God, but that does not mean that he thereby knows God Himself. But love is personal and relational. Jesus is the “Word” that John spoke about. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). However, Jesus the Word is not just a word about God. To know Jesus is to know God Himself, for Jesus is the expression of God in human form. Jesus said that whoever has seen Him has seen the Father (John 14:9). But we cannot say anything like that about propositional theology or correct doctrine.
The Lord Jesus is the expression, not of propositions about God, but of God Himself, who is love. To whatever extent we encounter love, then, we encounter God through Jesus Christ. And to whatever extent we express love, we express God through Jesus Christ.