Grasping God’s Love in Christ
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world…In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.(Ephesians 1:4-5)
It’s very important that we grasp the crucial concept that God’s love to us is in Christ. God’s infinite, measureless love is poured out upon us not because of who or what we are, but because we are in Christ Jesus.
In Romans 8:38-39, Paul declares that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God’s
God’s love flows to us entirely through, or in, Christ Jesus. Paul frequently uses the term in Christ to refer to our spiritually organic union with Jesus Christ. Jesus speaks of their same union in His metaphor of the vine and its branches in John 15. Just as the branches are organically related to the vine in a life giving union, so believers, in a spiritual sense, are organically united to Christ.
Just as God’s love to His Son cannot change, so His love to us cannot change because we are in union with the One He loves. God’s love to us can no more waver than His love to His Son can waver.
We’re constantly tempted to look within ourselves to seek to find some reason God should love us. Such searching is, of course, usually discouraging. We instead find reasons God should not love us. But the Bible is clear that God doesn’t look within us for a reason to love us. Rather, as He looks at us, He sees us united with His beloved Som, clothed in His righteousness. He loves us, not because we are lovely in ourselves, but because we are in Christ.
Here then is another weapon of truth
We should store up in our hearts to use against our doubts and the temptation to question God’s love for us. God’s love for us cannot fail anymore than His love for Christ can fail.
It is often that we seek for some new assurance that we are loved by God. Perhaps it’s due to our human relationships, those of imperfect people attempting to love and to be loved that causes us to question whether or not God loves us. We have either experienced or at least observed the “falling in love” and the “falling out of love.” We have taken note the two humans who have expressed their undying love for each other often go their separate ways and the love they once declared bow becomes animosity. We have all felt to some degree the pressure to “fit in” so that we might be accepted and in the world’s view, loved. Most of our human relationships and love are conditional. There is at least to some degree an expectation of acceptable performance in order to remain qualified to be loved.
I’ve sat with many couples who began their love journey with great joy and enthusiasm only to come to the place where they not only question their love for each other but have decided they no longer love each other. One or both may even state they have fallen in love with another person and therefore have fallen out of love with the former love. Such is the fickle love of humans. I’ve seen families who have declared their love for each other become almost bitter enemies over an inheritance and church members who have declared their love for each separate from each over conflicting views, many of which have nothing to do with spiritual or eternal matters.
Living in this environment of imperfect love, experiencing the course of being in love and falling out of love, we find ourselves wondering about the love of God. We are so used to performance based love that we cannot comprehend a love toward us that has nothing to do with who we are or what we are or even what we are doing. We don’t know what it means to be loved without condition. Even as children, we are to some degree made to feel that being loved is conditional on our behavior. We live in a world where love is so distorted that when we are introduced to the love of God it seems too good to be true. Most of us in one way or another have been disappointed by those who have declared their love for us. When we didn’t measure us some way to their expectations, we got the picture that we were no longer loved as before.
So it is when we come to God. We extrapolate from our human relationships that unless we live so that we fully please God in every aspect, that somehow God will cease to love us. Unfortunately sometimes Christians portray that as truth. While it is true that we daily surrender to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit who cleanses us and remold us from the old us to the new creature in Christ Jesus, the love of God toward us is not based on our success or unsuccessful attaining of becoming more holy. The love of God toward us is solely based upon the fact that we are in Christ and Christ is in us and we are inseparable in God’s love.
As a matter of fact the Bible says that while we were yet sinners, Christ loved us and died for us. In other words, at our worst moment, God showed His love toward us in Christ.
Listen to the words of John:
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
1 John 3:1
The love of God is “bestowed on us” indicating that it is given solely due to the decision of God to love us as His children. Let this truth sink into your heart. You are loved by God simply because He chooses to love you and Paul says that nothing can separate us from that love. Let the knowledge of God’s love for you strengthen your heart. Let His love free you from the vain attempt to acquire or attain love. Let His love for you cause you to know that despite your flaws and failures and even if today you wonder if anyone in the world loves you right now including self, you are completely loved by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let that love define you. Let that love complete you. Throw off those feelings of worthlessness and emptiness and be embraced even as you embrace the measureless love of God in Christ Jesus.
Dr. John Thompson