I’ve been reflecting on how God’s love revealed to us in Jesus Christ is meant to perfect us, not pamper us. His love is a soul-forming, mind-shaping, heart-filling, life-changing love. It is a love gentle enough to love me right where I am, yet unyeilding enough to move me into what I was (re)created to become in Jesus. It is a love deep enough to reach every shame, yet wide enough to cover every sin.
God’s love is a verb-kind of love. It is felt, known and seen, both in actions and words. It is a Divine love disclosed in Jesus Christ, declared by Jesus Christ, and demonstrated through Jesus Christ. John a devoted lover of Jesus, once said that God is love. Paul a devoted lover of God, once said that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, meaning Jesus is God. And this Jesus is the promised Redeemer King of Israel as prophesied in Hebrew Scripture. He was crowned with thorns at His death, crowned with glory at His resurrection, and crowned as Lord of all as He ascended back from whence He came, Heaven. In Jesus, God revealed His own love for us.
It is a Divine love. It is a true and faithful love. It is a gracious and merciful love. But is not a pampering love. It is a perfecting love meant to transform us from the inside out and give birth to Kingdom-shaped lives.
Though His love offers an enduring peace, it will disrupt spiritual complacency. Though His love is tender enough to draw me away from self-condemnation, it is firm enough to draw me away from self-preoccupation or selfishness. Though His love will pour out great blessings into my life, it will push me toward great sacrifice for the good of someone else’s life.
In his book Lion and Lamb, Brennan Manning offers a poetic expression of what God longs to tell us about His love revealed to us in Jesus:
“I will not leave you alone. You are mine. I know each of my sheep by name. You belong to Me. If you think I am finished with you, if you think I am a small god that you can keep at a safe distance, I will pounce upon you like a roaring lion tear you to pieces, rip you to shreds, and break every bone in your body. Then I will mend you, cradle you in my arms and kiss you tenderly.”
No, God’s love is not a pampering love. It is a perfecting love. It is a love adorned with beauty, drenched with holiness and overflowing with grace. And if you ever decide to fully embrace His love, one thing is certain: you will never be the same.