This is an awesome devotional article that will really stretch your thinking about something we too often take for granted: the love of God in Christ. Read it and then think. Think about it, then in deep gratitude, worship.
Self love comes by instinct. The adoration of self comes more natural to our flesh than any talent or skill developed from years of study, training, trial, or error. It became our first ignoble quality after the incident in the garden, our foremost love unequaled by everything else until the love of the Savior arrived to infiltrate and saturate it completely. This far lesser love permeates our being, drowns us in self absorption, feeds us the crumbs of self indulgence, and furthers our addiction for more. This is the love that tears us apart.
But there are two loves.
The love of Christ is a shocking, bloody, invasive, and persuasive love. It’s a love of birth pains, scandal, danger, sorrow, loneliness, misunderstanding, righteous anger, torturous death, and stunning resurrection. It’s completely antithetical to any kind of love that we could ever experience or share by another human being. It’s totally and utterly selfless, pure, transcendent, and triumphant. It has its origins in the inconceivable light, supreme majesty, and unfathomable holiness of God.
We think of God’s love as somehow being a slightly improved or more elaborate version of what we’re able to give or receive from others. But if it were something that even slightly resembled the absolute heights of love we share with those closest to us, we would never be able to experience or recognize it as something that has radically transformed us. We begin to understand the vast reaches of Christ’s love for us when we understand that there’s nothing in time or space vast enough to separate us from it.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
This is the love that tears us apart. It removes the dead remains of the lesser love that we have grown and cultivated for ourselves and replaces it with something so incomparably “other” that our only response is the startling outpouring of irresistible joy, humble thanksgiving, and unceasing praise. Poorly imagined analogies will not suffice: reattaching a lost limb, the sudden relief of incomprehensible pain, or rediscovering something precious that you thought you’d lost forever. What the love of Christ accomplishes inside us is something that makes us shudder when we remember our former lives. It’s a love that rescued our lifeless carcasses, once lying dormant in places of unimaginable darkness, and gave us supernatural blood transfusions and divine heart transplants. It’s a somber indicator of our low estate before an infinite and sovereign creator, yet serves as a joyous reminder to those of us who once reeled under the curse of our original father.
The love of God paints us into a new portrait, with etchings, lines, and brushstrokes of colors that we never knew existed. It re-imagines us, and we are made whole, “beholding the glory of the Lord, being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (1 Cor. 3:18).
Ronnie Martin is a writer, speaker, recording artist, and worship leader at Ashland (OH) Grace Brethren Church. He also co-hosts The Reformatory, a radio talk show with Ted Kluck. Visit him at www.ronniemartin.org.