(By Theanna Joyce)
I’d like to share some things that I have been enjoying and learning about the love of God. I think that I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing and reading of God’s love that I’ve taken it for granted most of my life. I forget to wonder at the grandeur of it. I forget its raw intensity, its unrelenting strength, and its infinite grace. Perhaps, I never really fully appreciated it in the first place. When considering the love of God, it’s important to understand that it is not like our human love. Our love for each other is a shadow—a poor and broken imitation—of what His love is. And so we must be very careful not to project our human ideas of love on Him, but instead look at what He says of His love, and how He shows it to us.
Let me share with you one mistake I recently discovered that I was making in seeking to understand God’s love. It’s not a mistake about theology or a lie, per se, but a truth that I didn’t believe. This truth is found in John 17:23, words spoken by Jesus in prayer to His father. After you read them, please reread the section I have bolded.
“I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.”
This verse is written shortly after Jesus’ last supper and before His arrest. I’m not looking at the whole chapter, but if you haven’t had a chance to read it recently, I highly recommend doing so because it’s a wonderful passage. Consider this last fragment, “You…love them even as You loved Me.” The “you” is God the Father and God loves “them” who are those who believe in Jesus (look at vs 20), even as He loved Jesus. God loves us as much as He loves Jesus. Wait, what?! As much as He loves Jesus? This seemed a bit extreme to me, because for some reason I had an unconscious, albeit very mistaken idea that God loved Jesus most of all, and then us. Jesus is so perfect and worthy of the Father’s love, but we are not. While in my head I knew the truth that God’s love is not conditional on us, our actions, or behavior, my heart still figured that God’s love of Jesus was somehow greater than His love of me.
Yet this verse clearly shows that my perspective was off; God loves us “even as” He loves His Son. He loves us so much that He gave all that He had, heaven’s best—His Son—so that we could be with Him in heaven. Wow! Thank you, Lord! What have we done to deserve it? And we all know the answer is a big fat nothing! There is nothing we can do to even begin to earn God’s love, and that’s the beauty of it. His love is not swayed by us; there’s nothing we can do to lose His love. He chooses to love us. He loves us even as He loves Jesus. Always has. Always will.