The Greatest Love in the World
There may be no more misunderstood concept in the world than that of love. Boys and girls who know only feelings whisper “I love you.” Teens in the midst of raging hormones say “I love you” with little thought to the weight of the words. Even some adults entering marriage have confused love with infatuation. Abused women endure wave after wave of physical assault because, “He says he loves me.”
Music and movies do us no favors in navigating these all-important waters. Characters fall in and out of love while lyrics too often confuse love and sex.
God’s Love is Different
Love is a basic theme of the Bible and a far too important concept to leave to uninformed definitions. When we read, “God loved the world in this way” (John 3:16, HCSB), is it the kind of love that is emotional, logical, or hypocritical? Or, is it different than the love we see portrayed in pop-culture?
We are not left to guessing as to the “way” in which God loves the world. Romans 5:6-8 describes it:
“For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person – though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!”
God’s love is giving. It is sacrificial. It is provisional. As Ben Mandrell has written, “The love of God is more than sentiment. Objective, historical evidence of God’s love presents itself in the cross of Christ. Jesus put Himself in harm’s way and endured the incredible pain of the crucifixion. This reveals the ocean-sized, other-worldly nature of His love.”
We cannot speak of God’s love – the greatest love in the world – without acknowledging its generous and sacrificial nature. God gave His Son for us. This is no small thing.
Why Does God Love People in Such a Way?
Because it is His nature to do so. God cannot love in any way other than that which is generous and sacrificial. To love in a lesser way would cease to be like God. This is how God’s love is described throughout the Bible.
God loves people is this way because it took this kind of love to provide the ground for salvation. The Bible describes people without Christ as “lawless” (Romans 4:7), “corrupt” (Psalm 14:3), “evildoers” (Psalm 14:4), and “lost” (Luke 19:10). We were far from God, separated from Him and unable to make things right on our own. When we were unlovely, unloving and unlovable, God loved us.
This is the greatest love in the world.
We will never know God until we have accepted His love fully expressed in Jesus. We cannot save ourselves and no one else’s love can save us. Only God’s love can, and He has made the way.
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