God’s Active Love for Us

As we start on this journey exploring what love is, it’s best to start with God’s love for us. 1 John 4:19 says that “We love because he first loved us.” When we talk about love, we need to start with God. God is the originator of love. Our love, no matter who we are, Christian or not, finds its origin in God. A fascinating book to read, to see the influence of Christianity on the world is the book Dominion by Tom Holland. Throughout the book, Holland traces the impact of Christianity on culture, especially the ideas of love and charity, and shows how many contemporary social movements can actually find their origins traced back to Christianity.

So, what does God’s love actually look like? I think a good place to start is Ex 34:6-7. This is the passage where Moses is up on the mountain and God passes by and proclaims his name. This is important because names have to do with character. So, when God tells Moses that he is going to proclaim his name, what God is doing is proclaiming his character to Moses. So, what is God’s character? Ex 34:6-7 says, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Now there’s a lot in this passage that we could unpack, and some stuff that is quite controversial, which we’ll get to maybe next week. For right now, I think it’s important to notice how active God’s love is. God’s love is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, faithful, forgiving, and enduring. There is an active nature to God’s love. Sometimes we can take passages where Jesus tells us to love our enemies and think it means we should allow other to do whatever they like. That we should deny ourselves and just let others do anything they want. But that’s not love. Yes, love will involve denying ourselves for a time, but we deny ourselves so that we can actively help others. As a parent, I am not loving my children if I deny myself in order to let them do whatever they want. Rather, I love my children by denying myself of things I might want to spend time on, so that I can help them. Today, on my day off, my daughter is home sick from school. This has meant that I have spent my day off helping her with her homework. There are many other things I would rather be doing than Grade 7 math but because I love her I spent time with her trying to figure it out.

This is God’s love for us. He is not sitting back letting us do whatever we want. No, he is for us, he is actively working on our behalf. Whenever we are in trouble, whenever life seems too hard to bear, whenever the weight of our troubles seems to heavy to bear, God’s love is there, actively working on our behalf.

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