My wife and I just spent the last twenty-four hours or so babysitting our youngest grand daughter and her two older brothers. She’s just a little over two years old and just starting to put words together into sentences. Besides being utterly adorable, I was mindful of the emotions of love that she constantly brought to my mind and heart. Having grandchildren is a little different experience from having your own children. Of course we all love our own children but there seems to be a special appreciation for these little gifts that we grandparents get to experience. I think part of it is the realization of just how special they truly are and having the actual time to appreciate their special qualities without having to focus on all of the required supportive attention that parents are subjected to.
Here’s a picture of Papa’s little girl, Josephine. And yes, that’s her kissing a little doll she calls “Papa”. It’s scary what witnessing a little action like that can do to one’s heart.
One American Dictionary defines love as “an intense affection for another person based on familial or personal ties”. Sometimes we love other people, or we say we love other people, when we are attracted to them and when they make us feel good. Notice that a key phrase in the dictionary definition of love is the phrase “based on.” This phrase implies that sometimes we love conditionally; in other words, we love someone because they fulfill a condition that we require before we can love them.
But our love can not only be conditional, it can also be subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind. We love based on feelings and emotions that can change from one moment to the next. My wife and I have one of those fridge magnets on our fridge that says, “I love you more today than I did yesterday. Yesterday you really got on my nerves!” Having been married 46+ years, I can attest to the truthfulness of that statement. And it doesn’t take much insight into today’s society to notice that the divorce rate is extremely high because husbands and wives supposedly stop loving one another, or they “fall out of love”. They may go through a rough patch in their marriage, and they no longer “feel” love for their spouse, so they call it quits. Evidently, their marriage vow of “till death do us part” means they can part at the death of their love for their spouse rather than at their physical death.
But what about “unconditional” love? It seems the love that parents have for their children is as close to unconditional love as we can get without the help of God’s love in our lives. We continue to love our children through good times and bad, and we don’t stop loving them if they don’t meet the expectations we may have for them. We make a choice to love our children even when we may consider things that they do or have done as unacceptable; our love doesn’t stop when we don’t “feel” love for them. This is similar to God’s love for us, but as we shall see below, God’s love transcends the human definition of love to a point that can be hard for us to comprehend.
God is Love: How does God Define Love?
The Bible tells us that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). But how can we even begin to understand that truth? There are many passages in the Bible that give us God’s definition of love. The most well known verse is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” So one way God defines love is in the act of giving. However, what God gave was not a mere gift-wrapped present; God sacrificed His only Son, and Jesus chose to be obedient unto death, so that we, who put our faith in His Son and His righteousness, will not spend eternity separated from Him. This is an amazing love, because we are the ones who choose to directly or indirectly reject God, yet it’s God who mends the separation through His intense personal sacrifice, and all we have to do is accept His gift.
Another great verse about God’s love is found in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In this verse and in John 3:16, we find no conditions placed on God’s love for us. God doesn’t say, “as soon as you clean up your act, I’ll love you; ” nor does He say, “I’ll sacrifice my Son if you promise to love Me.” In fact, in Romans 5:8, we find just the opposite. God wants us to know that His love towards us is unconditional, He accepts us as we are and to demonstrate this, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us while we were still unlovable sinners. We didn’t have to get clean first, and we didn’t have to make any promises to God before we could experience and accept His love. His love for us has always existed, and because of that, He did all the giving and sacrificing first, long before we were even aware that we needed His love.
God is Love: It’s Unconditional
God is Love and His love is demonstrated and offered to us, through the gift of His Son’s death and resurrection, so that we can be reborn and enter into a new relationship with Him, now, here today and for all eternity. And it’s that loving relationship with Him that draws us into the place where we begin to look at reality from His perspective and not just our own, and we literally become new creatures.
I’m reminded of that old hymn, “Just as I Am” that was sung at the Billy Graham rallies of days gone bye.
1 John 1:9 NIV “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
The fact that we, as sinners, can experience love, should of itself, indicate to us, that love has a source and that source is our Creator. If you’ve never turned to the source, if you’ve never given Him a chance, ask God to show you His Son Jesus and when He does, ask Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour. And your journey will begin.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!