GOD’S LOVE FOR US
Posted by: Bishop David Walker
GOD’S LOVE FOR US
The awareness of God’s love, the appreciation that we have been loved by God, is a very important aspect of the Christian life. Some appreciation of his love for us may well come from reflecting on the following characteristics of that love.
- God’s love is prior, first, before our love. This characteristic emphasises the initiative of God in loving us. In working with religion one must always begin with the divine initiative. John in his first Epistle offers the thought that the love of God is not that we have first loved God, but rather that he has first loved us.
- God’s love is gift. God’s love does not come to us as if we have earned it. It is not as if we are eminently loveable and we have drawn God’s love. In fact we are loveable because he loves us. The point being made is that God loves because he is love. His love is not drawn to others because of some special characteristics in them, which is the case with normal human love.
- God’s love is not dependent on us. God continues to love us no matter what we are: whether we are good or bad. Certainly, we can impede the effectiveness of his love in our hearts, but we can never stop him loving. No matter what we have done God loves us and we only have to turn to him to be received back. No matter what we have done we must always keep open our dialogue with God knowing that it is always open on his side. Whatever we do God loves us just the same, and if we turn to him he is ready to forgive.
- God’s love is personal, individual, i.e. it focuses on each and every one of us as individual. One of my favourite texts in the sacred Scriptures is from Galatians, 2:20- 21. When St Paul says “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. “
- God’s love is faithful, enduring, won’t end. There is no danger that God will run out of love. There is no danger that he will change his mind. He has pledged his fidelity. He will continue to love, indeed his love lasts forever.
- God’s love is all powerful. There is no danger that anyone will overcome God and thus we will loose his love. Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” There is an optimism about Christianity that recognises that there is always the power to triumph in the face of evil because Jesus himself has triumphed. We are linked to the love of God. One of the best texts in Scripture to reflect on in this context is the Epistle to the Romans 8:31-39, ” Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of God, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, being threatened or even attacked. For I am certain of this: Neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power or height of depth, not any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- God love is prodigeous. We have heard of the story of the Prodigal Son, but some people prefer to speak about that story as that of the Prodigal Father. God has not stinted himself in giving us gifts. If we look at our own personal life we can see that God has been prodigal in the things that he has bestowed upon us.
- God’s love is self-giving. This is perhaps the most important characteristic of all. God does not just give us things, he gives us himself. His love is a personal communication to invite us to share in his life as a person. Perhaps the most obvious witness to this is the person of Jesus himself who is the living presence of the divine love.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind — just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you — so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ_ He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor 1:4-9 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers — all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have rust place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. Col 1:11-20
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. Eph 1:3-14
“We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation. ” Romans 5:6 -11
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God –Eph 2:4-8
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ Mt 20:1-20