I love my family. I love what I do (my job). I love martial arts. I love exercising. I love that TV show. I love America. I love God. I love shopping. I love baseball. I love sunsets. I love video games. I love my girlfriend/boyfriend.
We tend to say that we love everything. We used the word “love” when something excites us, makes us feel good, when we really like something, etc.. This is because we only have one word to use for many different emotional variations. The word has been so overused that it has lost its significance in the English language. This makes it hard for me to write about God’s love. Where is it visible, and not abused or misrepresented?
The Bible says God is Love, and Love is of God (I John 4:7-8). So, not only does love originate from God as a thing, but love is an extension of God’s very person. To love is to be godly: To manifest the heart of God. We can be loving, we can love each other, but we cannot ‘be’ love. God is both the verb and the noun of love! But love is also an emotion. God, who is love, by definition is also the original emotion-full One.
What is the Love of God? What does it feel like? Where does God’s love start? Does God’s love ever end? These are core questions, and we may never completely have answers for them. For us, we sometimes know when we have experienced the love of God when we meditate on God’s actions.
Love and Promise
Deu 7:8 “But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”God’s love is connected to His promises. God love is so intimate and His affection for us is so strong that He moves to deliver us from our bandages, and redeems us from our slaveries. In this above passage, it was a bondage that we didn't ask for, and didn't deserve. I will illustrate. I was molested at age 6. God, in his love for me, was moved to free me from the addictions that such molestation instigates, and such molestation habituates. He was moved to keep His word spoken over my life, to and through my parents, when I was a baby. God in His love for us moved to free and redeem me.
Love and Blessings
Spoken by the pagan king Huram of Tyre: “Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the LORD hath loved his people, He hath made thee king over them.” (2Ch 2:11)
Spoken by the pagan Queen of Sheba: “Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the LORD thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice.” (2Ch 9:8 )These, spoken to Solomon by pagan rulers, show that God’s love is revealed in His manifested and manifold blessings on His people. Coming from the life I come from, I had given up on marriage and fatherhood. I was sure I would be horrible at both. I was tired of using people, hurting others and being hurt by others. And yet, when I stopped trying to solve my own brokenness, God introduced me to Melissa, my wife, and gave us my new lil’ girl, Abrielle! On top of that, despite the brokenness I come from, and ocean of pain I have left in my wake, God’s love allowed me to get my Masters of Divinity, a degree I am more than humbled to have. God’s blessings are a visible manifestation of His love.
Love and Pity
Isa 63:9 “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.”While this text does demonstrate God’s love in redemption, it does more than that. Here God’s love for His people is described as His suffering with them and having pity on them. This love moved Him to not only save and redeem them, but also to carry them as the helpless abused that they were. I am only now applying that to my life and my hurt. When I was suffering shame and guilt from the traumas of my childhood, and resulting life, God was suffering with me. When I was searching for a balm to cover my psychological and emotional woundedness, and in the process injuring myself, God was suffering with me. God’s love pitied me, and not only redeemed me, but He hasn’t left me. As I stumble toward genuine manhood, as I struggle out of generational curses and habits, God lifts me up and carries me, so that I stand erect as His new son!
Everlasting Love and the Covenant
Spoken by God: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer 31:3)God declares His love to be everlasting. This means that God loved me long before my parents were married and intimate, before any slave was transported to America, before Israel was freed from Egypt, before the flood, before “In the beginning…” God loved me, and so intense was that love that They were moved to action to create. And when our ancestors ate of the fruit, so fervent was God’s love for you that the Seed was promised to come and crush your abuser, your then accuser. ("No Accuser" by J.A. O'Rourke - Watch Video)
God’s love is so long that if you would try to see the end of it, it would vanish from your sight. It goes beyond what the mind can comprehend. It is older than “...In the beginning…” It is continual, meaning that it extends past the past and beyond the future with no beginning or end other than in the heart of God. And since God has no beginning, and no ending, His love is the same. It is this nature of God’s love that causes Him to relate to us with lovingkindness, chêsêd, a word constantly used in relationship to God’s covenant with Israel. God’s love binds Him in an exclusively loyal, intimate relationship with us. This covenant with God is what extends His mercy and grace toward us, calls upon Him to seek us out when we rebel, to clean us up when we fail, and to save us when we are afflicted. This love causes God to enter into our afflictions with us.
And He did enter into relationship with our afflicted selves: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God loved us so much that Jesus was sent to secure the hearts of those who wanted to continue receiving the covenantal love of God. The promise is an everlasting life, living within the everlasting love of God.
This love, God’s agapaō, was demonstrated in this way:
Rom 5:6, 8-11 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly...God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”When God gave us Jesus, God sacrificed. Love sacrifices to ensure relational intimacy. God’s love was to sacrifice for us while we were still guilty of rejecting him, worshipping other “gods” (money, sex, violence, material wealth, etc.), and in the end, attempting to stop Him from saving us, rebelling against our own existence.
The love of God in the New Testament is similar to another word for love used in the Old Testament, ‛âgab, to sensually breathe after. God’s sacrificial agapaō is motivated by his passionate ‛âgab for us. The picture painted is of a lover who so wants to be intimately close to the beloved that it affects breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, sweat glands, etc. While this word is used for Israel’s idolatry described in Ezekiel 23, it is the heart, fervency, and passion that is being used here, not the morality. The similarity between agapaō and ‛âgab makes this point: God’s passionate love for us can only be described in terms of the fervency with which Israel sought after her loves combined with the sacrifice demonstrated in Jesus Christ. Even then, our understanding of God’s love fails to adequately describe the depth and intensity of God’s heart toward us.
God, the omni-loving being, can only be love if He is in relationship. If God is love, then God must be relational, within Himself. Therefore, God’s passion within Themself, God’s relationship with Themself, makes Them Love. It was with this Love, from within the Godhead Himself, that God created us in His image. And when we fell, God Themself chose to express His ardent love for Their children by giving/sacrificing ⅓ of Themself to us, for us: for us to love, for us to hate, for us to reject, for us to accept, for us to abuse and murder. The Godhead sacrificed Themself, so that one ⅓ of Him became flesh, Jesus Christ, to be afflicted with us and by us, in order to ensure we can have everlasting life, living in everlasting love. It is a love that defies logic, and defies conception, that is beyond understanding and comprehension, that asks for acceptance, to mitigate sins consequences. It is a love that heals broken hearts, mends maddened minds, absolutely frees addicts, fathers the fatherless, restores marriages, reorients the confused, softens the hardened heart.
God’s love cannot be described. It can only be testified to. It was demonstrated in Jesus, and yet must be accepted to be real in the life. All we can do is give our witness of how God’s fervent, intensely passionate affection and commitment toward us has graced our lives.