Jesus was asked…
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”Matthew 22:36-40 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
A couple weeks ago I enjoyed some lively discussion about the Love of God with some friends and colleagues. Mention was made of love as an emotion, a sentiment, a motivation for action. Love is one of the names of God (according to the Apostle John). So Love can be an accurate label for God. There was mention sacrificial love, conditional and unconditional love… all sorts of love. And it was all true, good, and right.
But it all left me a bit hollow inside.
Something wasn’t “right” yet. There was something fundamentally “off” about where all this discussion left my heart and my mind, but I couldn’t figure it out. So I left it alone. I just gave it to God, and let it sit there, undisturbed, for a number of days.
As a new day eventually dawned, so did a new understanding.
The problem was… well… grammar!
What rankled in my spirit was treating the words “Divine Love”, like a noun… a static, concrete, noun… like a “thing” that just sat there… that you could poke, or prod, or point at. The Love of God just isn’t like that.
All too often when we discuss God’s Love, we speak theologically, or philosophically, or even psychologically. We analyze, explain, and somehow utterly desiccate all the life and reality out of this word. It becomes an alien, abstract thing, apart from us but seen as some experience others have… interesting, perhaps, but marginal in the great drama that is human destiny or cosmic events.
My mind, my spirit, rejected such a view. The Love of God, it seems to me, is not just a “label”, or a “characteristic”, or a mere “feeling” or “sentiment”.
The Apostle John speaks of God’s love, and man’s participation in it, thus:
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.1 John 4:15-19 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
This kind of love is something wholly other. This is something else. This… is a FORCE. This is a living sentient medium of relationship, connection, and motivation. This kind of love is alien, yet wondrous. This is a love that never falters, never fails, never weakens. This is a love one can anchor to, and feed from.
But what’s even more wondrous and mysterious… The Love of God is Living, Vibrant, and infuses our being. The closest illustration I’ve ever been able to imagine is a Nuclear Reactor, or a Tesla Generator. This is a Force of Love that changes all that comes in contact with it. Like radioactive isotopes can render other materials radioactive, or like brushing a steel needle along a magnet can render it magnetic… the Love of God transforms the material that contains it (the human heart and soul) into something other and new, likening one by gradual degrees into Himself and His image.
This is so much more intimate and relational a process than most ever conceive of. So many people are accustomed to thinking of some far off God… out there… up there… somewhere… Who looks in to check on what we’re doing, how well we’re behaving, how much or how little we are sinning since His last stop by…
It has made me wonder a simple thing…
The phrase “Jesus loves you”, or even “Jesus loves you and so do I”, has nearly become cliche in our Christian culture. “I love you (him/her) in the Lord”, is another such phrase.
What if we started rethinking that sentimentality into something closer to the intimacy and power we truly see in Jesus Christ of Scripture?
What if we considered the phrase,
“Jesus is in love with you?” instead.
If we ponder this, and come to believe it, what difference might this make in our day to day walk?
Grace be to you, Gentle Reader. And to your loved ones!