Extravagant. Lavish. Unconditional. Overwhelming.
These are words people use to try and describe the height and depth and gloriousness of God’s love for people, for sinners, for us. These are the words I hear people use as they grasp for some kind of understanding of such a deep, unwavering love.
But through our eyes, God’s love can’t possibly make sense. The holy, perfect, powerful God of the universe created weak little human beings, and loves them. Those tiny humans openly scoff in the face of God, claiming that we know better, and He loves us. Because of our need for salvation from God’s terrifying and just wrath, God came to Earth as one of us, and He suffered and died for us because He loves us. Even still, we sin every day, and even still, He loves us.
God teaches us and guides us and protects us. He wants the best for us (even when we don’t want it for ourselves). That is beyond my ability to grasp. I don’t get it. But I believe it, and I rest in it.
The Bible is full of verses about God’s love and, in fact, from cover to cover the Bible is the story and the message of God’s love for us.
Here is just a little bit of that story:
- “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 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 4:9-10)
Jesus came into this world to save us because He loves us. Even before we ever would have dreamed of loving Him, He totally and completely sacrificed Himself for us. Through that sacrifice, He offers us true, abundant life.
- “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
This verse brings me close to tears every single time. When God was on that cross, my sins held Him there. He was beaten and bruised beyond recognition so that I could be healed from the life of sin I had chosen.
- “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
God is just and God is righteous. Sometimes He chastises or corrects us when we have strayed away. But we can know that the character of God is not one that longs for our suffering. He loves and comforts those who need His comfort.
- “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
God will lead us and give us direction in the way we should go. His laws are real and His laws are important, but we sometimes have this picture of God as a taskmaster, and that is not accurate. God loves us and cherishes us and promises rest for our souls.
- “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” (Psalm 103:8)
Here is, again, a picture of God’s character. Despite our sinful natures, despite all the many times He has to correct and redirect us, God never runs out of grace and mercy for us. His supply is abundant if we ask for it.
- “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Not only does God love us this much, but we can’t ever be separated from that love. There is absolutely nothing that can make God stop loving us.
So what does all of this amazing love mean for us? Is it just intended to give us a warm, fuzzy feeling?
We know God’s love exists without limit toward every person who has ever lived or will ever live, no matter what we have done. But His gift of salvation, that relationship with Him that He was able to give us when He took our punishment on the cross, that requires something from us. Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” We have to accept the love and the gift that He offers by confessing that we can’t fix ourselves or get right with God on our own. We have to confess that we know Jesus is the only way to God and to Heaven.
Once we have done that, we have to remember that love. God’s love should drive us to follow Him without question. If we really believe He loves us that much, why wouldn’t we want to follow Him?
“The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen, can ever tell”
-the hymn, “The Love of God”