Love as the song says, makes the world go round… The airwaves are filled with songs about love, the genre of romantic novels abounds with love stories, social and political drama’s frequently have a sub story of a couple falling in love, yet love in our world so often has parameters around it, I’ll love those of my race, or class, or educational status, or enjoy the things I do, think like I do etc., and as easily as people fall in love, they fall out of it.
The Bible presents us with a very different kind of love.
1. First of all it paints a picture of a God who is love, He doesn’t have it as if it were a commodity, or something he dispenses, he is love itself. This love is found in a community of Being, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who have eternally existed and shared in love, a love so beautiful, pure, delightful and unalloyed. That’s why the doctrine of the Trinity is so vitally important. Without it there can be no love, for love needs another, it does not, it cannot exist in isolation. Without it love comes into being, and begs the question did God make us in order to love, and what kind of love would that be? No, love didn’t start with the coming of Jesus, or the creation of humanity, love was because God is, and God is love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Have you encountered this God?
2. Because God is love, he loves! He can do no other. Out of the loving fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit the idea of earth was conceived and brought into being, and to top it off, people, you, me, were made in the likeness of this Trinitarian God, and made to dwell within the circle of that amazing love.
Even when humanity steps outside of the circle of that love in its willful sin and rebellion, God doesn’t stop loving but pursues them, and so the Old Testament story that unfolds in greater detail the nature of this love culminating in the promise of the Saviour. And then the New Testament opens with this loving God coming in human flesh, coming to live where we are, down at our level! Shocking, crazy, stupendous love!
Jesus comes into the world and unveils what it means to truly love and throughout his short span he lived love, a love that would shock the religious authorities of the day who thought they had got it and understood it.
In the sermon on the mount he invites the unlovely, the unready, the rejected and downtrodden into the kingdom of God – the religious didn’t like that, they were keeping them out, thought they knew it and had it, yet Jesus exposes them as cold and hard hearted, but to the broken, the poor in spirit, those hungry for righteousness he says you are ‘blessed’! Makarios an existing state of happiness,It wasn’t about positioning for a blessing, but an existing state! You are either in that state or not.
He went into homes and engaged with people that others wouldn’t go near, he ate and drank with them, he taught them, he told them crazy stories of radical love – the prodigal son.
Both sons are lost, one away from home, the other at home.
The younger son dishonoured his father in asking for his inheritance and blowing it on riotous living, then because he was hungry (not because he’s really sorry) he decides to return home where at least there is some food. The father who has been loving, looking and waiting, gathers up his robes and runs to meet him, hugging and kissing him with great affection.
The older brother whose is riddled by jealousy and bitterness on hearing of it behaves like a spoilt child and is miffed and humiliates his father by refusing to come and rejoice in the feast! The father though loves the older son and goes out to him to plead with him, not concerned at what others will think.
Here is love! The Father goes out to both of them! There’s no concern for how it looks as he embraces and kisses the renegade son who dishonoured him. There’s no concern for how it looks as he goes out and pleads with the older renegade son to come and join the party.
Love doesn’t care what it looks like and who is offended by it. Love doesn’t count the cost but is oblivious to it. The sons can’t save themselves only the Father and the father loves them both, equally. This was shocking, it was spectacular, it’s crazy love! But God either loves like it or he doesn’t. And he either loves you like it or he doesn’t!
This love had led God to step into our sphere of existence, take on human flesh, not to be served, but to serve. To experience life in the darkness of this world and be tempted in every way as we are, then go to the cross and bear our sin, going right down into death for us, a death unlike any other, such is his love.
Have you seen it, have you caught it, are you living it?