Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
A.W. Tozer struggling to explain God’s love said: “I can no more do justice to this awesome and wonder filled topic than a child can grasp a star. Still, by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. And so, I stretch my heart toward the high, shining love of God so that we may be encouraged to look up and have hope.” As we look up toward His love we see that it is the supreme expression of who He is for it affects all of His other attributes, His love is the only reason we exist. His power is the “how” of creation but His love is the “why” which demands a focus, you and I are the focus of His eternal affection. What amazes me is that His love flows uninterrupted like a pure river of grace and mercy without detracting in any way from His holiness and righteousness. As we experience His love we discover that it is this attribute that is the open doorway to knowing and understanding God intimately.
In our culture we have many phrases that are not literal but are used to express our thoughts and desires. Men will say “I have nothing to wear” meaning they have no clean clothes and need the laundry done, while women repeating the same phrase mean that there is nothing in their wardrobe that they like and what they really want is to go shopping! There is a very interesting phrase that we use to express something that we really love, we will say it is so good, it’s “to die for” like “That dessert is so good, it’s to die for!” “Or look at that vehicle, it’s to die for!” We say that because when we are trying to find a way to convey the height of our love for something there is no stronger language than sacrifice. Yet the truth is that this is really just a phrase because when it comes right down to it no one would actually be willing to die for a dessert or a great car, it simply vividly expresses the height of our appreciation for those things. When we think of those closest to us, the ones we really “love”, we could express that by saying “they are to die for.” But would we or is that just a phrase, an empty expression without action?
Jesus said that true love is demonstrated in its sacrifice, the giving up of what is ultimately most precious to us in this life, life itself. John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It’s easy to say “I’d die for you,” when we don’t intend to back it with any action and we’re pretty sure we won’t ever be called upon to fulfill our vow. It’s like the guy who says to his wife, “I’d climb the highest mountain for you, “I’d swim the deepest ocean, “I’d give my very life for you” and she says, “Oh, honey, that’s so wonderful, but what I really need is for you to help me clean up the garage on Saturday.” To which he replies, “Are you kidding? Now you’re just trying to take advantage of me!” We say that we love but if it requires more than words often we are quick to back out and especially if it requires sacrifice.
We talk about love but Jesus lived love and He didn’t just express His love for you in the words “you’re to die for” He expressed it literally in His actions on the cross. He died for you because of His love but the most amazing part is that He did it “while we were still sinners” not once our good deeds had outweighed our bad ones. While we were still sinners and didn’t have the slightest interest in Him He died for us. We might be willing to die for someone we feel is worthy which is usually based on their relationship to us. We would be willing to die for someone in our own family but He loved us enough to die for us simply because He loved us, not because we were family but so that we could become family.
John reminds us that it was the night before He died when Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” These were not empty words void of action but the ultimate demonstration of God’s love the night before the cross, yet when it comes to God’s love for us many of us we say “Yeah, right, ‘God loves me.’ Prove it!” The cross is the proof that God loves you. The problem is that it’s easy for us to forget the greatest truth we could ever know, that God loves us. Too often we doubt or forget God’s love but what do we see when we are willing to gaze into the heart of God? Is it judgment? No, although those who reject His love will be judged. Is it “You lousy sinner!”? No, even though “all of us have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.” When we look deeply into the heart of God it’s more than what we see, it’s what we hear, “I love you.” Today God is saying through His word “When I think of what I love the most, I think of you, you’re to die for” Will you respond to His love?