A pair of hands began to methodically dig up the loose soil, turning it into a heap. When a sufficient amount of soil was placed in the pile, the hands began to move the soil rapidly. The earth began to take a shape never seen before. When the earth was molded into the desired shape, the Creator leaned down, looked approvingly at the shape, and placed his mouth on the lips of the earth.
He breathed, forcing air into the clay bowl he had made. Suddenly, miraculously, the shape responded to the breath and came to life. Adam was aware that he was the apex and climax of creation and that the Creator had just formed a special bond with him: a love relationship (seeGenesis 2:7).
The very nature ofGod is love
Volumes have been written on the characteristics of God, but when distilled down to the most basic categories, He is love (1 Juan 4:8), life (Jeremiah 10:10;Revelation 22:1) and holiness (Salmo 99:9). And, in reality, his life and his sanctity are founded on and are an expression of his love: love gives, that is why it gives life; love desires the best, that's why holiness comes from it.
Love is not something he chooses to do or give. It is the very essence of who He is. He not only loves - HeEsamor (1 Juan 4:16). It motivates all His actions, directs His activities and reflects His desires (1 Juan 4:10). Love is the greatest and purest essence of what a person is and its proper expression brings satisfaction.
However, God's love is not like the love expressed by many in our culture today: a love for convenience and for self. That is, "I will love you as long as you add value to my life and I like you. When that stops, so will my love for you." For many, love is conditional. The conditions may be different depending on the relationship, but there are still conditions to meet in order to "win" our love.
William Bennett, former Secretary of Education and author ofThe Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories(1993), she once said that she attended a wedding where the vows were changed to reflect this love of convenience. She decided to send the couple a gift that reflected her commitment to the marriage: a pack of paper plates! She said that she thought the package would last as long as the wedding.
This attitude contrasts sharply with God's unconditional love, which never fails (Salmo 52:8), it lasts forever (Salmo 106:1), does not calculate (Proverbs 30:5), and not motivated by personal gain (1 Juan 3:16). Unconditional love does not mean that God loves everything we do, but His love is so intense that He loves every sinner, no matter how vile and despicable in the eyes of humanity, so much that He provides a way to find love, life and holiness (Juan 3:16). "Intense love does not measure, it only gives" (Mother Teresa).
The focus of God's love is redemption
Daily, Adam and Eve walked with God, until the desire for pleasure overcame their love for God (seeGenesis 3). This break in the relationship called for redemption.
God's love (and ours!) is not an abstract ideal, but a concrete reality that finds expression. Love that is not expressed through surrender, practical action, and sacrifice is not love. Love must meet the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of loved ones. It is expensive, it brings vulnerability and seeks the greater good of the person (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
God's intense and unconditional love for fallen humanity motivated the plan of salvation (Revelation 1:5). Simply put, salvation is God making us whole or complete. It is a healing of the soul, returning us to the state of Adam when God gave him life and made him one.livingsoul. Separation from God caused by sin is separation from life. A person can have biological life, but not the quality of life that God envisions for us.
A few years ago I met Marc, a house painter. He immediately told me that he knew I was a preacher but he didn't have much for Christians or preachers due to some bad experiences. I quickly prayed for wisdom and said, "Marc, Christians are a lot like painters. Not all who claim to be are. Of those that are, some are better than others. And even the best make mistakes." He paused and replied, "I never thought of it that way." Our friendship continued to develop. One day he called me to tell me that he and his wife had given their hearts to the Lord. He was amazed at how alive and free he felt. God's love brings purification, freedom and fulfillment. True love is liberating, not restrictive. This does not give us a license to sin, but rather the freedom to serve God fully, motivated by love and empowered by the Spirit.
God's love motivates His compassion and mercy (love in action). Your love brings transformation. Normally, at baptism, the minister will quoteMateo 28:19and baptize the person "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." We clap, raise our hands, and miss the truth of the event. It is more than a public expression offe. In baptism, we are baptized (immersed) into the character of the Father (love), the character of the Son (grace), and the character of the Holy Spirit (communion; see2 Corinthians 13:13).
Salvation is based on God's fervent love and mercy, not on our dignity (Tito 3:4-5). One answer (in the image of Jesus Christ's offering on the Cross) is that we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1).
The purpose of God's love is relationship
Love requires relationship, because love is a dynamic force or presence that seeks to express itself naturally. In short, love loves! And to do that there must be an object of that love or it is incomplete.
God's love is revealed in the fact that He created us in his image (position of responsibility before God) and likeness (moral freedom;Genesis 1:26-27;bueno 33:4). Part of that image/likeness is the freedom of choice. We can choose to accept and embrace God's love or we can choose to ignore or reject it. We were formed from dust, but because of God's great love for us, we received God's breath, with its intrinsic and inherent life. This life gives us the ability and desire to be in relationship (understanding, self-awareness, communication, companionship) and to love in return. To live in God is to live in love (1 Juan 4:16).
Our relationship with God is intimate. There is sacred knowledge and expression taking place. To know him intimately is to open the door to revelation and realization. It produces change or transformation: change of essence, expression, behavior, desires, identity and security. The bond is so strong that God says that a nursing mother can abandon her child, but He will never abandon us (Isaiah 49:15-16). He Becomes the supreme Father!
When we reflect on the intensity of our relationship with God, doubts often arise. Can we keep our end of the deal? Of great comfort (and pressing challenge) is the thought that our relationship with God is not the sum of our God-directed activity, but the intensity of our relationship with God expressed through our devotion to him, our obedience to his wishes and our attitudes towards his will and his best wishes for us. He loved us first, allowing us to respond appropriately to his love (1 Juan 4:10-11). And his love (and skill) never fails.
A young student asked Karl Barth to share the most important theological truth he had discovered in all his years of study. Barth, one of the most prolific theologians of the 20th century, wrote approximately sixty volumes of theological commentaries and studies. This brilliant man who many call the greatest theologian of modern times thought for a moment, smiled, and said, "Jesus loves me, I know, because the Bible says so."
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39)!
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