Love, By an Unfamiliar Name
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.—1 John 4:10
It’s a lot easier to declare love than demonstrate it. Saying it but not showing it doesn’t add up to genuine love. Only a small part of love is how we feel—it’s much more about what we are willing to do.
In the verse above, the apostle John reminds us that God the Father, the source of love, has both declared and demonstrated it. And God’s relationship with us is love’s ultimate example. In that relationship, the least deserving recipients receive divine love, poured out in the greatest selfless act. And because of the cross, we also face the serious choice of receiving God’s love for us.
First John 4:10 makes it clear we are never the initiators and always the responders when it comes to love between us and our Creator. In other words, we can’t even begin to respond to Him until we grasp that He already loves us. As a result of His love for us, "God . . . sent His Son."
If we only see the life of Jesus as a great example, we’ve missed the central purpose of His time here. He came to be and do for us what couldn’t be accomplished any other way. Only God’s Son could “be the propitiation for our sins.”
The word propitiation tells us Jesus was the complete and perfect answer for our sin problem—the Son addressed all of the Father's righteous anger for sin. God's wrath for all the selfish prideful things we have done, for all the good we should have done but left undone, and for all of our indifference to God—He placed the sum of everything we had coming to us squarely on Jesus Christ. When He died on the cross, our Savior paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay.
We don’t really “get” Christianity until we understand Christ was the payment for sin and God’s greatest demonstration of His love for us.
The glory of the gospel is that God loves you! He paid the price that makes your forgiveness possible. He made all the necessary arrangements to free you to love Him back.
Receiving His love is your response to His amazing offer. Even if you have been a Christ follower for a long time, remember—you’ve done nothing in your past and can’t do anything in your future to deserve or earn the life-transforming love God has declared and shown you. Let that reality sink into your soul, with a grateful heart for all He has done.
What is involved for you in choosing to let God love you? Is it hard or easy? Why?
How do you know God loves you?
Lord, I am stunned every time I am confronted by all You did for me long before I gave You a thought. How can I not be humbled before You, knowing though I am completely unworthy, You have chosen to value and redeem me from sin? You’ve done all the hard work of love and offered me the choice to respond to it. Lord, YES! I receive the forgiveness Your Son bought on the cross for me, and the lifelong joy of learning to love You back with all I have in me. In Jesus’ name, amen.