John A. Braun
Gary Chapman wrote about the five love languages. His insight came from careful study and counseling experiences. Many couples benefited from his insights and improved their relationship. Perhaps you have benefited as well.
Another love deserves our attention—God’s love. His love for us is communicated in the gospel that proclaims Christ crucified. That is his language of love. We don’t understand and appreciate his love on our own. It is foolishness and weakness. The Holy Spirit must bring us to see that it is wiser than human thought and stronger than any human power (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1 and 2).
I’d like to use five adjectives to help us appreciate God’s love. God’s love is perceptive, sacrificial, personal, powerful, and persistent.
When I say that God’s love is perceptive, I think of the way God viewed the helpless lot of his fallen creatures. By nature humans are locked in a prison of guilt, shame, rage, jealousy, and arrogance. The prison has only one door—death. That’s what God perceives of our human existence.
God’s love took one more step. God found no human who could change what he saw (Isaiah 59:16). He knew he was the only one who could change things. He chose to act in love, and his love was sacrificial. He entered human history and became a human for no other reason than that there was no other way. Jesus came and sacrificed himself to pay for all human faults, sins, and errors. While we were powerless and enemies of God, he demonstrated his love for us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
His love was personal because he knew every sinner and included all sinners in his sacrifice. God knows us so well that he has an accurate count of the hairs on our head and knows where we are and what we experience each day. In love he knew us long before we were even born.
This is all a mystery to our natural human thinking. We would not know any of this unless God revealed it to us and gave us power to believe it. So God’s love is powerful. It has changed us in two ways.
The proclamation of God’s love in the gospel is the power of God, as Paul reminds us (Romans 1:16). The Holy Spirit uses the gospel to change our hearts from stubborn unbelief to faith in Jesus. That is the first way God’s love shows its power. We don’t call Jesus Lord except by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).
God’s love is powerful in another way too. The gospel continues to shape and mold us as children of God. We are compelled by God’s love not only to love him but also to serve him. We are different from those who do not understand God’s great love. That love motivates us to praise, worship, and obey him and to love others as he loved us.
The love of God operates through the gospel in Word and sacrament—the means of grace. As we take steps in our earthly journey, we recognize that his love is persistent. It does not change or waver. It remains constant; it does not give up on us. When we falter, God does not abandon us. When we grow weary, his powerful love persists in giving us strength.
I can do no better than pray, with the apostle Paul, that “you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 103, Number 2
Issue: February 2016
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