Wednesday, April 11, 2007

We Love Because He First Loved Us

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of the earth in all its glory. It is quite a site to behold with its mixture whites and blues and browns. Of course you know that the reason the earth can be seen in space is because the light of the sun pulses toward it and then, to some extent, reflects back into space. This is called “albedo” or the rate of reflectivity. But did you know that a portion of the sun’s light that hits the earth actually travels back to the sun? If you were standing on the sun you would not be able to see it because the light of the sun would overwhelm it, but it would be there nonetheless.

And just as the earth only shines because it receives light from the sun and then sends back a portion of that light to the sun, so we only love God because he first loved us and the love with which we love him is but a dim reflection of the love with which he first loved us. His love is a self-generating, independent, and ever flowing love; our love is an other-generated, dependent, and reflected love.

So, as we start this series of meditations on what it means to love God we must begin with this: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We have the passion to love, the ability to love, the skills to love, the discipline to love because the blazing center of love, the Lord God Almighty, first loved us.

For today, I’m simply going to quote Deuteronomy 7:6-16. I invite you to consider this passage carefully since it will be the fodder for the next several meditations.

“6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.

“12 And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. 13 He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. 14 You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock. 15 And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you. 16 And you shall consume all the peoples that the LORD your God will give over to you. Your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you”

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:07 AM

    Charlie,

    I have been teaching weekly bible studies for college age and another one for men for about 2 years. There has been resistance to the obeisance aspect of Jesus’ teaching so I have been led to go back to basics. In the first commandant Jesus said to love God with all your being, then he said if we love Him we will obey Him. My teaching focused on the obedience and missed out on the why or motivation. We want to get back to our first love, but how. We are smarter now than before but we are in love with God less. Is the answer to focus on God’s love and then we will again be overwhelmed and love him again? How do we love God? Or maybe it can’t be explained or legislated (commanded). We must be in love with God and then only because he loves us?

    Thanks for direction,
    Grampa Dick

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous9:08 AM

    Charlie,

    I have been teaching weekly bible studys for college age and another one for men for about 2 years. There has been resistance to the obeisance aspect of Jesus’ teaching so I have been led to go back to basics. In the first commandant Jesus said to love God with all your being, then he said if we love Him we will obey Him. My teaching focused on the obedience and missed out on the why or motivation. We want to get back to our first love, but how. We are smarter now than before but we are in love with God less. Is the answer to focus on God’s love and then we will again be overwhelmed and love him again? How do we love God? Or maybe it can’t be explained or legislated (commanded). We must be in love with God and then only because he loves us?

    Thanks for direction,
    Grampa Dick

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you very much for your questions, Grampa Dick. I don't have any easy answers, except to say that I think you're on the right path when you say that we must emphasize the "why" or the motivation of obedience. For obedience is not an end in itself, and it does not emerge from itself. Obedience is a means by which we display our love for God and the call to obedience emerges out of his prior love for us. I like to think of obedience as passion for God made visible. (And it's also the work of the Spirit of God made visible, because without him we can do nothing.)

    So, I think the answer to your dilema is to focus on God as an end in himself and to pray for an ability to see him for the treasure that he is. When he becomes our only treasure and our all-satisfying portion, we will long to obey him. A good book along these lines is John Piper's "God is the Gospel."

    Thanks again, hope this helps. I'll be returning to this theme on my blog this week and I hope what I say there will help you.

    ReplyDelete