John 16:26-27 “At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.”
“I love you.”
It is a longing within each child to hear those three words from their parents. When a parent begins to express their love at a young age, they are giving security, and acceptance as well as love to their life and giving a good foundation that will significantly aid their future.
We know our love is real and genuine, but, would it; could it be returned? The first time we heard those words from one, we so desired made our hearts skip a beat. Because there was love, there was an acceptance, because of the acceptance, there came security.
In the world today, it is seemingly devoid of the very love it needs to survive. We see wars on a scale that goes beyond one country’s borders into another and begins tom escalate globally. We hear of such violent acts, mass murders, and suicides that we start to wonder if God has forgotten us or is punishing us for some reason.
When we do not balance what we hear with what we know, our enemy attacks with a vengeance because he knows it is a window of opportunity to deceive, divide and destroy our faith in our Heavenly Father.
When I read this passage, a small portion jumped out at me.
“For the Father himself loveth you“
So many religions portray God as full of wrath, angry, distant, and barely tolerant of our existence. Some are just the opposite. They focus on God as all-loving and forsake true justice, judgment, and holiness. Some will wrap themselves in a cloak of praise and worship, and leave off the harder portion of repentance and confession.
God the Father, at His core, says: “I love you.” Not only is it found throughout the Word of God, but demonstrated on the cross for all to see. One of the most famous passages of the Bible is:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
There has never been a greater love spoken, nor shown to all humanity than that of our Savior’s death, burial, and resurrection. We sometimes make the mistake of transferring our view of love, our experience of love, and the pitfalls and failures of love onto our God. He loves us with perfect love, a righteous love, a love devoid of malice, hate, or condition.
He reminds us:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We fail to understand this love because our hearts betray us. Some will follow emotion and trust it to be fact; and what a rollercoaster ride that becomes!. Others view emotions as a distraction and deal solely on actions and miss experiencing our relationships on a level only our hearts can absorb.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
There are those whose early years were devoid of love. Some suffer such abuse that their defensive mechanism for survival is that they will never love or trust anyone because the times in which they did, it was betrayed or used as a weapon to enslave them further. They shut out any notion of loving or of being worthy of love.
The road to recovery for such a one is complicated and fraught with pitfalls that only surface when the layers of self-protection are peeled back.
Some of the greatest demonstrations of love and mercy come when the deepest of wounds have been healed and restored. When a victim of such horrific abuse can forgive their abuser and then, in turn, grant them grace – we are shown the type of love God so desires His children to display.
On the cross, Jesus said:
Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
After all they had done to Him, He forgave them. We, too, are called to such a love.
Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
As we begin this week, let us purpose to love deeper those we have in a relationship. Then, challenge ourselves to love that one we see as unlovely, or unworthy. They may return our love with vitriol and hate. But let us, like our Savior, forgive them and love them as we are commanded to do.
There is no way to generate or manufacture that kind of love on our own. It must be God’s love through us, to them. May it be our prayer to be given the grace needed to break through our pride, prejudice, and preferences to grow into a love that can demonstrate a love far beyond our capacity.