I must admit that as a young, single man starting an article with the title ‘true love’ can be a little daunting. To put you all at ease let me first assure you that I have absolutely no relationship advice in this article. When it comes to the topic of true love between a man and a woman I can provide no advice or insight but my hope is to convey a few aspects of the love that God has for us. Now, I don’t claim to be able to cover much of the vast topic of God’s love for us. Much has been written on this topic by men more intelligent and learned than myself. This is not an attempt to teach you something you do not know but rather a humble effort to encourage you by reminding you of what you do know. There are really just two things I want to look at in relation to God’s love. Firstly the conditions that predicate it and then secondly the desires that flow from it.
Now I don’t doubt that you all know that God loves you unconditionally. If someone asked you that question you would intellectually answer it by saying that you know his love is unconditional. However, we often fail to transfer that knowledge from the head to the heart. I think part of the reason for this is that we are continually reminded of how hard we must be to love. Thus the idea creeps into our mind that we think that we must work to earn God’s love. It is possible that into our mind creeps the erroneous idea that somehow if we stop reading our Bibles, stop praying, show up to meeting late, and fail to share the gospel with our friends that God will love us less. Perhaps even more dangerous is the idea that creeps into our mind that we can somehow enhance God’s love towards us. This is the thought that because of our faithful attendance at the meetings, because we work so hard around the hall, because we read our Bible everyday that God would love us more. Both of these thoughts betray our lack of heart level understanding of the conditions of God’s love for us. God’s love for us is not based on merit. God loves us because God is love. God loves us because he is good, not because we are good. This is a simple thought and yet one that is so hard for us to get into our heart. We want to earn it, we want to deserve God’s love but we can’t so don’t try to. God’s love for us is not predicated on our behaviour but rather on his character! What confidence and security!
What I want to think of here are not your desires but rather God’s desires. What does the love of God produce in terms of what he wants from/for you? I think to best understand this concept we need to use an analogy. I can think of no better analogy than that used by C.S. Lewis in his book, The Problem of Pain. Lewis uses the illustration of a husband and a wife and he says this: ”Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but love cannot cease to will their removal. Love is more sensitive than hatred itself to every blemish in the beloved.” What is Lewis saying? What he is saying is that a husband loves his wife even when she is sick. Yet it is because he loves her that he longs for her to be better. It is the same with God. God loves you unconditionally (as we mentioned above), and yet it is because of that love for you that God is passionate about your sanctification. God loves you just as you are and yet because of that love he will not leave you as you are. It is God’s love that means he is deeply interested in continuing his involvement in our lives. Whenever you were saved represented not a finishing point but start.
If there are two things that we can take away for this week I think it is this. Firstly God’s love for you is unconditional. He loves you because he is great and because he loves you he wants to see you made holy. The implication is that rather than working to somehow earn God’s favor, humbly look to God for strength and grace to become the man/woman he wants you to be. The second thing I would like us to think about is our love for other things. Do you love your family the way God loves you? Do you love Langstaff the way God loves you? To draw that question out think of what conditions you’ve placed on your love. Secondly, think of your attitude and desires. If you are apathetic, distant, and uninterested in improvement, change, and development that should be a warning flag as to the reality of the love you profess. God loves you just as you are but that same love means he can’t leave you where you are. I would encourage you to love others, love your family, love Langstaff, just as they/we are and allow that love to drive you to desire the best for them/us.