Summary: Knowing God loves us changes everything. We are secure in His love and able to love others. God's love is infinite, individual, initiative, and involved. The Cross is the proof of God's love.
Esteemed theologian Karl Barth was asked by a student at the University of Chicago, “What is the essence of the biblical message?” Everyone breathlessly awaited a profound, scholarly answer. Barth replied: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The love of God changes everything. Peter Kreeft writes: “Nothing makes us saints faster than being hit over the head with God’s love.” When we encounter God’s love, we begin to love what He loves, and how He loves.
It is the nature of God to love. Not all religions accept this. If you were to ask a Muslim, “Do you love God and does God love you?” the answer would be: “I obey God and He rewards me.” Love isn’t part of the equation; fear of punishment is. For Buddhists, if there is a God, he is impersonal; he is not the divine Lover. The Buddha taught that desire causes suffering, and so love is an illusion, a selfish attachment, something to overcome. To this we respond: God is love.
If your child asks, “Why do you love me?” you could say, “Because you’re such a great kid; you’re smart and kind”…but then you’d be tying your love to your child’s performance, which is conditional love. Or you could answer by saying, “I love you because you’re mine.” This is God’s love for us. God doesn’t love us because we deserve His love but because He has chosen to love us. C.S. Lewis said, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” It is the free gift of God’s love that gives us our new birth. Heaven is free because God’s love is free. When we’re uncertain about someone’s love, we live insecure lives. God’s love is our security and it cancels out our fears.
We fully appreciate God’s love when we realize just how unworthy we are of it. God loves the unlovable. His love is greater than our sin. We can’t fully appreciate this unless we understand the bitter awfulness of our sin. “God loves us not because of who we are and what we have done but because of who God is” (Phil Yancey).
So what is love? If we don’t know what love is, we can’t grasp the true nature of God. Love is an unconditional, sacrificial, compassionate commitment.
God’s love is…
▪Infinite--The true measure of God’s love is that He loves us without measure. There is no limit to God’s love…and unlike human love, God’s love never changes.
▪Initiative--It reaches out to us, not waiting for us to do something. He loved us before we knew Him, and loved us at our worst. He chose us and even though we weren’t seeking Him, He sought us.
▪Individual--“God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love” (St. Augustine). It is a big world, yet God has “engraved us on the palms of His hands” (Isaiah 49:16).