Love is one of the most overused and wrongly used words in the entire English language. You love your dog, french fries and your spouse. There’s clearly a difference, but it is critically important for us as Christians to make this difference explicit, especially in light of the great love with which God has loved us. This post seeks to reclaim an element of the particularity of the word, and to show not only that God loves you, but also how and to what extent he loves you.
Love is one of the most powerful human emotions, but is commonly misunderstood and frequently abused. The Bible defines the epitome of love in John 15:13, when it says “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”. Make no mistake, true love has nothing to do with the tingling feeling you get around an attractive person. That’s literally just excitement and hormones. Love, true love (Princess Bride hat tip), is sacrificial. That is, the one loving is fundamentally more concerned with the object of their love than with themselves. Love is giving, always seeking to benefit the other. Love forgives, holding nothing back. Love is humble. Love is patient. (Pretty much this entire paragraph is a very loose paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13).
That’s great, but what does it mean? After all, human beings are sinful and cannot possibly love everyone all the time. If we could, there would be no war, no violence and no sin. Think about it. If you truly love someone, will you sin against them? Ultimately, in order to truly and fully love a person, you must make sacrifices for them. Rest assured, by that standard, I’m not fully loving anyone either. What I mean is that we’re incapable of truly and fully loving others, particularly outside of the help of God and the overflow of his love. As much as you may say you love a person, until you can honestly say you love them with no regard to what you can get from them, you can’t say you truly love them.
This is where the conversation must turn to God. Only God has loved us perfectly, Only he can perfectly demonstrate how to love each and every person we interact with. As I mentioned above, love is defined in sacrifice, and we know that God himself sacrificed his only begotten son and even his own life so that we might have eternal life. Along with this, he loves each of us in a particular and personal way which should give us hope, comforting us and bringing us into closer fellowship with him. When we realize his love for us, we should be motivated to draw closer to him and by extension, to more faithfully love those we are around. This is the natural outflow of a relationship with God.
If you feel that you have not experienced God’s love, take heart. He knows you. He loves you. He is a good God who cares for you. I encourage you to read the Bible with this in mind, asking him to reveal his love for you. It is truly one of the best things in the world to be loved, and my prayer is that you would experience God’s love for you in a real and refreshing way.