Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The depth, the magnificence of this chapter, indeed of the whole book of Romans, boggles the mind. It’s no wonder that it was very quickly recognized as being as much the Word of God as the Old Testament! Here we have the ultimate answer to anyone who doubts the love of God. John 3:16 is of course justly famous, but here Paul is being very specific that Jesus didn’t die for us because we in some way deserved it, but simply out of the overflow of His grace and love, because that’s who He is. As John also expresses in the fourth chapter of his first letter, the love in question isn’t ours but God’s. Ours is no more than a poor imitation at best. Human love can indeed be magnificent and sacrificial at times, but it never comes up to the level of God’s love for us. From the perspective of the world’s religions, love seems a very strange thing to base everything on. For example, the very word, Islam, means “submission.” We are to submit to God, but out of love for Him that reflects His love for us. Judaism absolutely venerates the Law of Moses, but when He was asked what the most important law was, Jesus famously responded, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Imagine that! All the Law is predicated on love! Human love can’t handle that load, but God’s love certainly can, and Jesus proved it by His death and resurrection.
I was blessed to be born and raised in a home that was characterized by love, both God’s and man’s, but not everyone can say that. As a pastor I deal frequently with people who have a very distorted concept of love, because they don’t have the foundation of God’s love in their heart and mind. For that to get through to them, they need to see it in me first. My life needs to be predicated on love, just as Jesus said. As we had prayed it would be, I think our recent church barbecue was something of a “love bath” for everyone who attended, and I believe that was a powerful witness to those who are not yet believers. I am personally very conscious of love at the moment, because today is our 53rd wedding anniversary. The past 53 years have certainly been a training course in love! However, as wonderful as our love for each other has been and continues to be, it is no more than a pale reflection of God’s love for us. I am to revel in that love first and foremost, allowing it to flow through me to those around me, for His glory alone.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Your love truly is beyond human vocabulary to express. Thank You for the words You gave Paul to give us some insight, at least. May I respond to Your love as You desire and intend, so that more and more people may open their hearts to receive Your love, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!