A Love Talk

Your shades of love topic really struck true with me, but do you think this inability to love completely and indiscriminately is part of our fallen human condition? Does our heavenly Father have only one shade — the “all in” kind of absolute redeeming love?   Is His perfect love the same for the SON, a justified believer, a lost child, or a fallen “angel”?

I was once an object of wrath, but now He looks at me and sees Jesus.

He loved us more, in a sense, to sacrifice the SON in our place.  Now that I am His, does that necessarily imply that He loves me more than before or more than the heinous criminal who is still lost and subject to that terrible wrath?  No, for we who are His are now joined to that sacrifice, and He continues to will the sacrifice of His own in continual pursuit of those who are not.  One shade of boundless love.

♥ beautiful ♥

I would never portend to even begin to comprehend the multifaceted, incomprehensible nature of our eternal God, nor the indescribable dimensions of His eternal love.  I am but one mortal man probing the perimeters of His divine beauty and sharing, haphazardly as I might, a few insights with those precious souls who care enough to allow me such privilege.  Yes, perhaps “one shade of boundless love!”  Or, perhaps, incomprehensible multitudes of shades of love in more variety than we can ever begin to discern.  I’m haunted by His statement:  “Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness” (Malachi 1:2-3, NASB), or as stated by the Apostle Paul, “Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:13, NASB).  Perhaps He means that only in the practical sense of how He allowed history to unfold in behalf of each of these individuals and their descendants; and not so much in His personal desire or will for each one.  But, I can say that, at least it appears to me as if, God’s love is made ever more evident within the hearts, the minds, and the lives of those who have chosen to reciprocate that love and allow His Spirit to fill them with some measure of divine insight into the awesome reality of that love.

♥ fathomless ♥

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure…

I get a little lost contemplating these things.  In the spirit of David, “My heart is not proud, my eyes are not haughty; I do not worry about things too awesome for me to grasp” (Psalm 131:1).  Who can help but be drawn to the beauty, mystery, and truth held there?  He has set eternity in the heart; His greatness no one can fathom.

I am with you on the haunting phrase about Esau, and shudder at the thought of actually being hated by Elohim Chayyim.  A terrible thing to fall into those hands, indeed.

I see the danger here, the danger of comparing human experience and emotion with that of our all-knowing, all-powerful Lord.  It is not the same, and may be an attempt of the mind to understand or assuage my guilt over inadequacy. I love more, the same, and less all at the same time!  I see how this affects our daily, practical relationships but, as you said, does not have to do with personal desire or will for each one.

I rest in the fact that His love — whether one beautiful, boundless shade or incomprehensible multitudes of shades we cannot fathom — is right, true and perfect, and that He knows those who are His.

♥ inexhaustible ♥

I wanted to bounce the following passage of scripture off of you and ask for your insight.  I meant to include these verses in the article — “Love and ‘In Love'” — but somehow, it escaped me.  Anyway, the Apostle John writes of Jesus saying:  “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”  Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:21-24, NASB).

I know that God loves His creation and every precious soul in it.  I do not agree with the Calvinists who teach that Jesus did not shed His blood for all humanity, but only for the elect.  I believe Jesus’ statement: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB) pretty much settles the matter.  And the Apostle John goes on to say, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (I John 2:2, NASB).  I think it is important that people everywhere know how much God already loves them.  If people believe the Calvinist rhetoric concerning the doctrine of “limited atonement,” then they may very well determine that, somehow, they must fall outside the scope of God’s love.  But what they need to know, and be convicted of in their hearts, is that He already loves them, so much in fact, that Jesus has already been to a cross to suffer and die for them.

So then, what is this teaching from Jesus saying that those who keep His commandments are those who love Him, and those who love Him will be loved by My Father, and I will love him” (verse 21) and “My Father will love him” (verse 23).  Are the Father and the Son waiting for us to first love them before God loves us back — as the Calvinists hint?  But the Apostle John says, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10, NASB), and, “we love because He first loved us(verse 19).

I can only conclude that, while God loves every precious human soul to the unimaginable extent of allowing His only begotten Son to go to the cross for each and every one of us, yet, there remains an even deeper, more profound, and infinitely more intimate love affair with God which He reserves only for His own covenant children.  Imagine the power of that thought — that we who have reciprocated that love which God has lavished upon us through the gift of His Son can enjoy the privilege of experiencing ever deeper and more intimate degrees of His love.  The only thing I can even compare it to is the difference in the love that I feel in my heart for someone who is but a mere acquaintance, and the love that feel for someone like you!  And if we are created in the image of God — having some appreciable measure of Godlikeness within us — then why would it not be so; that my heart, like His, would reflect varying degrees of love and the desire for varied levels of intimacy?

I think God has made it clear to me, through His word, that He desires more than a casual relationship with me.  God desires that which can only be experienced among humans within familial circles.  Else, why would He refer to Himself as Father? And why would the Apostle John make such a statement as, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God(I John 3:1, NASB).  And why would the Apostle Paul equate the church with family, saying, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19, NASB).

♥ intimate ♥

Desire for intimacy is definitely different than actual intimacy.  The deep, self-sacrificial longing that our Lord has for each soul cannot be fulfilled without reciprocation. One can love alone, unrequited, but without being loved in return, there is no intimacy.  This makes so much sense!  It seems to follow that more intimacy mean greater love, but for some reason this is hard to reconcile with the idea of God loving unconditionally, which is ingrained in our “Christian” society. I have always struggled with the concept of unconditional love, and am sure I have shocked the few believers with whom I have dared to share that I am not convinced it exists.  Or, if it does, it is not really love, at least not a healthy love that seeks ultimate good and truth.

God shows no favoritism in the availability of relationship — “love” — with him. I may be picking at details to say that “nondiscriminatory” and “unconditional” are not the same thing.  The Father offers His love freely through Jesus’ sacrifice to the entire world; but is there no condition?  Unconditional availability does not seem to be equal to unconditional relationship — intimacy.  There are necessary strings, Pinocchio!

Belief, of course, is a prerequisite. Obedience, as in the verses you’ve already quoted, is obviously required, as well. And what about really, truly loving Him back from the depths of a heart that, like the psalmist, longs for the courts of the Lord and pants for Him like water?  Obedience may show faith and love to a certain degree — there are those shades again — but I am thinking of those believers who, like the Pharisees of old, follow the commands and traditions but miss the Spirit.  Apparently, obedience, in and of itself, is not the only requirement; for He says to some of them, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).  In this vein, John 14:15 and its parallel verses seem to say that if we truly love Him we WILL obey Him, not that obedience proves love.

Longing for those we love most in this life to choose God, love, light, faith, and — yes — “us” feels like a powerful, exhausting, consuming love.  There is sadness and even anger there at times. But this love is incomplete, unfulfilled, lacking.   I wonder — is this somehow related to the verse about us “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24)? His sacrifice — and His love — is perfect, complete, finished! How can it be lacking other than in our part, in our roll to play, as we choose to pick it up and reciprocate in both love and obedience?

He loves perfectly in a global sense, but that love is only made perfect in my life personally if I choose to receive it — on His terms of true Spirit-lead obedience — and so spend my life plunging deeper and deeper in love with Him.

Ending thought:  I have trouble discerning whether the discrepancy in “how much” I love someone is truly a character of God-likeness or a manifestation of human weakness.  I can see how different levels of intimacy may be natural and even God-like.  Jesus had His “inner three” and even the disciple whom He loved.  God the Father had greater intimacy with certain people like Abraham, Moses, and David.  I, however, am called to treat all people with the true, agape type of service-love.  So, when I fail to do this well — whether in the feeling of my heart toward someone or in actual treatment of them — have I not fallen short in loving them as God would have me love them?

♥ daughter ♥

Child of my heart ~ yes, you have fallen short; even as I have fallen short in my every attempt at loving you the way God would have me love you.  And, so long as we walk within this earthly realm, so shall it always be.  However, in this, as with all things orchestrated by the Heavenly Lover of our souls, His grace becomes sufficient for us. And so, we press on — often with bruised, battered, and broken hearts — in our passion to “be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1, NASB).

Plagued as I am with my own sinful mortality, my own egotistical, wanton needs and desires, my blindness to the needs of others that, so often, lie right before my very eyes, I sometimes wonder how anyone could ever feel truly loved by me — especially Him!  I look at the meager trinkets of adoration I offer unto Him — daring to call them “gifts,” or even “sacrifices” — and marvel at my audacity.  Yet, in my foolish, human pride I carry on in the eyes of others as if God must surely be pleased with me.

But, if He is, in the least bit, pleased with me; if my daily life brings even an inkling of a smile to His face, or a smidgeon of joy to His heart, I know that it is simply because, ultimately, my heart, by faith and the indwelling power of His Spirit, somehow manages to mirror His love and reflect back to Him, if ever so dimly, the love He has lavished upon me.  As the Apostle John so stated:  “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10, NASB).

And so, with renewed determination, even while falling short in that determination, I, together with you, seek to take up my cross daily — dying just a little more to ourselves — that His love may be ever more clearly revealed in us.  And if we hurt at our own fallacies and frailties, or feel as though we might even just break down under the weight of the heartache at loosing those we love most in this world to this world and its wicked ways, well, imagine the pain and heartache suffered in the heart of Him who loves them, and us, most of all!

Yes, with such love comes indescribable joy and, with this love, comes almost insurmountable heartache.  Yet, still, the apostle and prophet, led as he was by the Spirit, dared to boldly tell us:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19, NASB)

This is my continued prayer for you, too, my dear — and for me, and for all of us!

♥ dad ♥

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