It is not uncommon for Christians to self-reflect and challenge themselves to a deeper level of faith. Sometimes I find, however, that I can try to challenge myself in ways that completely miss the point.
After reflecting joyfully and thankfully on God’s love toward me (and toward the world) the other day, I asked myself, would I still love God and commit myself to worshipping Him if there were no benefit to me?
Not simply if there were no material or relational blessing, but if there were
no life after the next, if there were no communing with Him through the Holy Spirit, and if there were no basking in His love as I had been.
Would I love God and commit myself to Him for the simple fact that He
created the world and rules over it? The fact that He is the God who is, who
was, and who will be? Even if I could not experience the warmth and power of His love?
My reluctant, honest answer was no. I don’t believe I could.
And at that exact moment I realized how ridiculous the question had been in the first place. Of course I wouldn’t be able to love a God who didn’t love me. Our God, YHWH, is love.
Some Christians might be too familiar with this now clichéd saying to fully
grasp its significance (I know I have been). But I encourage us all to dwell on it.
When God came to earth as Christ to live and die for us, He fully revealed His perfect love. And we know that God doesn’t change. He wasn’t revealing some kind of new or increased love which He had developed towards us. He was revealing to us the perfect love that always was, that always is, and that always will be.
A love that had always burned as powerfully as it did on the cross.
There will never be a world where I must try and love a God who does not
love me, because God is love. The fact that humans can even experience some form of love is because we were made in the image and likeness of a God who is the very source and essence of love.
In our broken state, humans were blind to what love truly is. We experience
a form of it, yes, but that form is distorted. We still love, but that love is
often betrayed, selfish, lost, rejected, abused, abusive, or unrequited. The
love we have known without God is a broken form of what it should be.
But Jesus revealed what true, perfect love really is. Being fully God and
fully human, He revealed to us both the unbroken love we were made to
experience as humans, and the perfect love which God loves us with.
And it is because He made known to us His love, we can love in return
(1 John 4:19).
I cannot love a God who does not love me, because love consists of this: not
that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to die in our place to take the punishment which was due us because of our sinfulness.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.1 John 4:10-12
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.