A Love Worth Living For
Febuary 15, 2011
We all know of love to one degree or another. We all have experiences of love to one degree or another. Love can have many shades of meaning. Lust can confuse it. Need can disguise it. Desire can blur it. Security can exploit it. Getting married can build it. Having children can deepen it. But God’s love, in spite of all of this, is unique.
As deeply and beautifully as we see some people love each other, our love is absolutely miniscule compared to the love that God has for us.
The Bible teaches that we are born dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1); that there was nothing good in us; that in and of ourselves even our best efforts are sin-drenched and like filthy rags, fit only for the garbage bin (Isaiah 64:6); and that “there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3).
Yet in the face of such a messed up and sin-filled world, God does the unimaginable: He continues to love us; not the seeming best of us, but “us” – people with broken and wrecked lives – enemies of God. As Romans 5:8 puts it: “God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5 goes on, adding something else: “for if when we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…” Let those words sink in: “we were reconciled when we were enemies.” What does this mean? This means that we were loved by God not only when we were sin-drenched and covered in filth, but also when we were His enemies.
So then, the amazing reality of God’s love is not that He loved the lovely, but that He loves us in spite of how remarkably unlovely we are.
This is a reality that is beyond our ability to comprehend, which is why Paul prays that we would have the power to “grasp just how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know that His love passes all comprehension” (Ephesians 3:18-19). Paul wants us to be empowered to know a love that is impossible to know! This in itself is incredibly difficult to comprehend, even as a concept, let alone as a reality. Paul is praying for us to know something that is impossible to fully know, and that is the love of God.
As a society, we have been conditioned to think about love as primarily a feeling, but love in the Scriptures is described more as an action. God chose to love us and has shown His love not by way of some warm fuzzy feeling, but by an action. “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so 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). We were dead in sin, filthy and deserving of death, but “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God was not just giving His beloved, blameless, and holy Son over to be killed – as bad and as horrible as that would be – but God was giving His Son over so that in His death for us, who so detested and hated Him, He would also bear upon His utterly innocent and sinless soul all the punishment that we deserved: Complete separation and broken fellowship from God, and the full wrath of God His Father, experiencing the full force of hell itself.
Even while it is impossible to fully appreciate and comprehend the mind of God in this transaction, we must nonetheless consider it if we are to ever be able to understand the love of God. What we see is God gazing upon His Son, and then with just the slightest turn of His head, gazing upon His enemies… fists raised in defiance and hatred dripping from their mouths… and God knows that if He does not give His Son over to die for them, that they will die and be punished forever.
If you think that because God is God, the determination to have God the Son bear the wrath and punishment we deserve was easy, then you don’t really understand the mind or heart of God. This was probably – on a level that is, once again, impossible to comprehend – filled with a grief never before or after able to be even remotely approximated… For the Father saw His Son sweat blood in the garden. The Father saw His Son cry out for another way than the cross. The Father saw His Son beaten. The Father saw His Son mocked and spit upon. The Father saw the lashes of the whip land squarely upon His Son’s back, tearing His flesh and drawing rivers of blood, disfiguring Him beyond human likeness (Isaiah 52:14). The Father saw His Son given over to the cross. The Father saw His Son carry that cross on His back up to the garbage hill outside the city where He would be crucified. The Father saw His Son cry out: “Why O why My God have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
All of this was played out in perfect clarity in the mind of the Father, so that there is only one thing that is more powerful than the searing grief of having His Son be that sin bearing sacrifice, and that is His glory and His love for His enemies. It was for sinners and rebels such as you and me that God sent His Son to die.
You see, this is what it is all about. It is not love in the abstract, it is about HIS loving ME, and HIS loving YOU. It is about HIS saving ME, and HIS saving YOU. God did not simply desire to save His enemies, but He did exactly what was necessary to accomplish that desire – and that was to have their place taken in the fires of hell by the one Person in all the universe who meant everything to Him and could never ever in and of Himself deserve such a punishment, and that Person is His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ… and Christ, in His love did it, not because we deserved it – we don’t; we deserve hell – but He did it “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2)… which is US!
When you get it that God really loves you and died for you, paying the full punishment for your sins, becoming sin and giving you His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), and you throw yourself in repentance at His feet, your life is changed forever. You are no longer a slave trying to work your way into your master’s favor; you are a child loved by your Father. You can cry on His feet and He won’t be disgusted with you, you can hold Him close and He won’t toss you away. In fact, as Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will gather you into His arms and carry you close to His heart,” and He will never let you go (John 10:28).
Friends, don’t wait another moment. Don’t live in sin and darkness and waste your life. Put yourself at the feet of Jesus, where you will hear words of life and forgiveness. You do so by coming to Him in faith and repentance, holding nothing back, seeing yourself for just what you are – a sinner deserving judgment and needing the salvation that can only come from Jesus; and seeing Him for who He is – a Savior whose love for the world means that He desires to save EVEN YOU, and that, to the uttermost.
Trust Him with your heart, surrender and give all of yourself to Him, renounce “the sins which so easily entangle” (Hebrews 12:1), and receive Him as your Lord and Savior. As you do, as you give yourself to Jesus, you are giving yourself not just to a Savior who will never reject you, leave you, or forsake you, but to the Bridegroom of your soul… the One who loves you and gave Himself for you, setting you free to live secure and surrounded in His love and for His glory. This, friends, is a love worth living for.