Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In this is love

You can't avoid it: Valentine's Day. Try as you might, red hearts and Teddy bears and shmoopy wares fill the shelves. (I've read that there was actually a Saint Valentinus, a Christian saint of old whose deeds of love and mercy while in Roman prison form the basis for this day of love.) But if we are to consider saying the words, "I love you," we need to first consider what love is: a voluntary choice to give yourself sacrificially for the good and joy of another. To say those three words means to follow the way of Jesus: "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers" (1 John 3:16).

"God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 4:32 - 5:2)

"God is love. In this the love of God was manifested among us, that God sent his only Son in to the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [wrath-appeasing sacrifice] for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (1 John 4:8-11)

"It is the spectacle of Gethsemane and Calvary . . . that opens to us the folds of unspeakable love. The Father did not spare his own Son. He spared nothing that the dictates of unrelenting rectitude demanded. And it is the undercurrent of the Son's acquiescence that we hear when he says, 'Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done' (Luke 22:42). But why? It was in order that eternal and invincible love might find the full realization of its urge and purpose in redemption by price and by power. Of Calvary the spirit is eternal love and the basis eternal justice. It is the same love manifested in the mystery of Gethsemane's agony and of Calvary's accursed tree that wraps eternal security around the people of God." (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied)

"We know that those who truly love are only happy when those whom they love are truly happy also. So it is with God in his love for us. . . . Through setting his love on human beings God has voluntarily bound up his own final happiness with theirs. . . . God was happy without humans before they were made; he would have continued happy had he simply destroyed them after they sinned; but as it is he has set his love upon particular sinners, and this means that, by his own free voluntary choice, he will not know perfect happiness again till he has brought every one of them to heaven. He has in effect resolved that henceforth for all eternity his happiness shall be conditional upon ours." (J. I. Packer, Knowing God)


Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

"We know that those who truly love are only happy when those whom they love are truly happy also."

So very true, and so very hard to see the ones that we love hurt, even if the hurt was not intentionally inflicted.

Even harder when one loves many people - my personal translation of Luke 7:47, I love much because I have been forgiven so very much.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I love this post on love, Andrew. Great words yourself, and great (Calvinist- ha) quotes.

Especially the thought that God's love won't be fulfilled or complete by his choice until he brings all his people into that final place and dynamic state of love.

Great comment, Susan, too. Yes, paradoxically, we who have been forgiven much love more. We all need to see the depths of who we really are, and the heights of God's love in Jesus for us and in regard to that. And I know you know that.

Ted M. Gossard said...

by paradox I mean it often ends up being those of us who have sinned more or are more aware of that, end up loving more, in Jesus.