Love. It’s a lot bigger than four letters. There’s hardly anything spoken of more, yet so misunderstood. The heart-broken and bitter say, “Love is something everybody says before they hurt you and desert you, so they can feel better about it. It’s something people say only when they want something from you. And I’ve had a little too much ‘love.’” And if your definition of love comes from watching television, you probably think it’s something reserved entirely for food, fights, and broken relationships. I used to think that way. Love is just selfish drama, right? An excuse? Yet, it’s something we long for. It’s something we need at the deepest part of our being. You can have all the money, glory, and pleasure you want in the world, and without love, you’re just a walking corpse. You were created to be loved, and to love.
1 Cor 13:3 says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (NKJV). All the things we can take, all the things we can give don’t leave us any lasting fulfillment, do they? Without love, what feels good today is dull, dis-heartening, or even deadly tomorrow. Yet, our love is so weak and fragile, so vain and changing, so selfish! So what does God’s love look like? The Bible says, “[S]carcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8, NKJV). Did you catch that? It wasn’t that we were righteous enough to deserve God’s love. It wasn’t that we even liked Him. In fact, when all He ever did was good towards us, we turned away from Him, and loved doing all the things He hated, living selfishly. And yet, seeing our repugnant condition, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Love is committed. Love is passionate. Love is dangerous, yet all securing. It cost God everything. The One who had always, before anything was ever created, been with the Father, took on human flesh to die for you, because God was that committed to loving you. Here’s a big revelation: It’s not based on how much you do, or how well you perform. We may spend our whole lives in shame, professing to believe in Christ, and secretly hiding from Him, hoping He won’t see who we really are. Remember Adam in the garden? He walked with God in the cool of the day, communing with Him, person to Person. He hid away from God the moment he sinned. Ashamed, he attempted to bury himself in a place where God wouldn’t find out what he had become. All of God’s creation was beautiful, holy, playing part in an everlasting harmony of worship to God seamlessly. The sun, moon, stars, birds, beasts, whales, trees, were all so beautiful, each one testifying to the glory of their Creator. But then there was man: The only one in heaven and earth created to be a child, to engage in the deepest and most intimate relationship with his Creator. Man had now become a monster. And the more he tried to hide it, the worse he became. Then, something amazing happened: God confronted Adam and Eve about their sin, and instead of condemning them, He showed them mercy. He clothed them and promised a day when they would be redeemed.
Here is a terrifying and revolutionary idea: Your relationship with God is not based on what you do, but how much you trust Him. Love requires choice. You can choose to trust Him and receive His love or not. And yet, regardless, He will be there with you in your darkest hour. He will be there with you when you hide yourself from the world. He will be there with you when you seal the doors of your heart up, and throw away the key. He will be there with you when you yell at Him from your prison cell, and when you’re defeated and broken. When you feel abandoned and hopeless, irredeemable and sold into bondage, when you feel like you’ve failed and there’s no turning back, He will be there with you. Do you know why? Because He wants to. He is all-powerful, able to do whatever He wants, and He wanted to take on your suffering, so that He could be there with you in the midst of it. He wanted to take on your failures, so He could be there with you when you fail. And not because He’s lonely. Because that’s what God’s love is. It’s not selfish. He wants to take you in the palm of His hand, raise you up, let you gaze into His eyes, so that you can see what He sees when He looks at you. It’s not so much that He’s called us to change, but He’s called us to come to Him, and His goodness changes us (Rom 2:4).
When Jesus rose from death, He overcame the hell we rightly deserved because of our sin. He overcame the sin that had us enslaved to darkness. And afterward, He showed Himself openly to His disciples here on earth. They got to put their hands in the wounds in His side, and in His hands, where the stakes and the spear were driven through before. After He ascended into heaven at the right hand of the Father, John testified seeing Him like a lamb that was slain, and yet lived. In heaven today, He still bears the scars He took for you at Calvary. Do you know why? It’s because He wants you to be able to visibly see how much He loves you every time you look at Him. He wants you to see how much you’re worth to Him. Those same wounds that caused Him agony in this life serve as a testimony to the power of His love forever. He doesn’t want to give that up, as gruesome, agonizing, and spiteful as it was. He wants all creation to know how much He loves you.
Like Christ, if you have been wounded, abused, abandoned, left for dead, spit on, and treated like garbage, I have news for you: The scars you carry don’t have to be an ugly reminder of innocence lost. They can be an everlasting testimony of victory, proof that you are exactly what God says you are – His child, created in His image, like Him. They can be proof that you have overcome because He overcame. I have good news for you: He will never abandon you in your weakness, sin, and suffering. He will be there with you. Again, I have good news for you: Underneath it all, God is creating something so beautiful, so holy, so strong, and so pure that the heavens and the earth will roar with praise, when what you are created to be is made manifest – a child of God. And they will see the Person of Jesus, and the power of what He accomplished at Calvary when His blood spilled down from the cross, when they look at you (1 John 3:2, Ephesians 3:10).
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor 13:4-8, NKJV). The love of God is committed, faithful, enduring, overcoming, self-sacrificing, all-consuming, and totally fulfilling. The love of God is more powerful than anything you can imagine, deeper than the ocean, more real and life-giving than your next breath. This is the kind of love you were born for, to receive and give. We spend all our life trying to look for it. And here is where the eternal quest ends: “God is love” (1 John 4:8, NKJV). It cost God everything to love you. Love always costs. And love is always worth it.