One of the sections for reading this week comes from chapt. 2, verses 4-5 which I have shared below:
Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved."
I am by no means a bible scholar and couldn't tell you what anything means in Greek, Hebrew, etc. but I love reading verses like this. They give us a glimpse into the great inner workings of the Father and for me, they propose a challenge. It may seem pretty straight forward. . . . God loves us, has mercy on us and saved us through Christ. Cool. Done & off to the next verse, right? But what about this love?? When you read the bible, at some point it should sink in that God's love for us is different than what we view as love.
Dictionary.com defined love as this below (only took the first 4 definitions) and initially lists it as a noun:
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
To many of us in this society, that's exactly how love is. It's just a noun that describes a 'feeling' of passion, affection, attachment, or desire for someone. But 'feelings' aren't sustaining. How many marriages/relationships fail because the people involved 'fell' out of love or just don't 'feel' love towards the other person?? This description of love can fade and change over time. That can't possibly be how the Father feels for us? There has to be a deeper dynamic that we are missing.
When I read the bible, especially the Gospels and see Jesus at work, I tend to view love as more of an action; a verb. Love does something, makes us alive, gives something, heals us, sacrifices something, submits to authority and saves us. All actions; not nouns. Plus it is an unconditional love. God does for us and gave the gift of salvation through Christ not because we deserved it, not because we are 'good' enough, not even because we are entitled to it. But because of his grace and mercy, he loves us unconditionally and wants to redeem us back to him - how awesome!!
But the challenge in this verse for me is. . . . . can I love like that? Can I embody this type of love to others that the Father has for me? That his Son had for me when he died on the cross?
How about showing this type of love during the trite annoyances in my day - like when my husband offends me, my kids disobey me, the cashier is rude to me? Sure, those things are not too hard to deal with and we pick our battles right? We love our spouses, kids and can be forgiving of a stranger who may be having a bad day. Problem solved!
But what about the more difficult trials in life that we may face. Can I love a friend that has abandoned me? What about someone who I know has used me/taken from me? Or one of my current struggles. . . . Can I love those family members that have forsaken me and continue to lie/gossip about me in an effort to cover their own misdoings?
See, now it's not so cut and dry is it? That's why it's a challenge. And to be honest, I don't have this love in me most days. Not when the pain is too deep. Not when the hurt is fresh. But without this type of love, there can be no set action meant to change the course of our own sin and destruction. For those who are hurt, there can be no action towards forgiveness and healing. Without action there can be no progress. Without progress, we are simply left in our own transgressions. Separated from God.
Can I love like this; like the Father has loved us? No I can't. . . . . at least not on my own. But I can love like this with prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit to guide me and change my heart. :)
**This post linked to: The Straightened Path blog