The world will tell you that they are the definers, indeed the originators, of love. You can hear it in their songs, see it in their movies, and hear it in their conversations. You will often hear, “I love that dress!” Or maybe, “I love to fish.” And, over time, the Christian might begin to think that these things are true demonstrations of love. “I love you” is a wonderful phrase: it is appropriate to say to your children and spouse at night before turning in for the day. It is appropriate to say as the final words before leaving on a long trip. It is appropriate to say spontaneously just to remind significant people of your affections for them.
Although all of these expressions are wonderful, we must conclude that they do not approximate the quality of the love of God. That is to say, God’s kind of love must be, by nature, far greater than any expression of love that we can find in this world. Sure, there are reflections of the image and likeness of God in some of these and that is good. However, they, like us, fall far short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
The Bible has a lot to say about the love of God. Primarily, and weightiest of all, the Apostle John wrote, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The context details for us the meaning here. The main thought is contained in the previous verse. John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another…” The reason we are called to love one another is because love is from God. That means that God alone is the source of all love. Love does not come from the world, the flesh, or the devil. It cannot find its source in the hearts of men. It cannot be naturally produced. If God is not the source of the expression of love, then it is not love. Further, as John is writing to believers in Asia Minor, he lets them know that the expression of love, having been from God, is proof of regeneration. One “born of God” in turn “knows God” (V. 7). The person born of God inherits God’s very character (Ephesians 4:20-24). That person cannot help but express God’s nature precisely because he is “born of God.” Babies can’t help but be babies and neither can those born of Him.
A. Christ’s Kind of Love
If we could define this quality of love, how could we define it? If love is from God, God is love, and love characterizes true Christians, then, needless to say, this is a very profound consideration. Just like anything, if we need clarity about something, anything, particularly as it relates to God Himself, we do not need to look any farther than to examine the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, His Son. We are not able to exhaust the concept of the love of God in this article, but one example does cover sufficiently.
B. Christ’s Comment on Love:
“…but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.” John 14:31
This is a consummate comment by the Lord. In essence, He said that all that He did in His life, in particular in His death, He does simply to demonstrate His love for the Father to the world. This is an astounding truth. And one that requires time to examine. For our purposes consider that the all-encompassing reality in the life and mind of the Son of God was not his life and ministry. That is, He was not so much preoccupied with His life on this earth as He was with one great fact-He loved the Father. This love was a tangible, demonstrative love. It was a love that looked like something and had consistency. It was not a love that was:
- Flippant – because it involved a predetermined plan from all eternity that included His own death (Psalm 2:7-9; Philippians 2:5-9)
- Superficial – because it involved His entire being; mind, heart, will, and emotion (Mark 14:22-32).
- Temporary – because His entire life was a demonstration of love for the Father (Luke 2:49; John 17:4).
This love for God was a kind of love that was solid, sound, consistent, and real. It was full of all affection. But more than that, it was full of complete commitment. That is what Jesus is saying here. He is saying, in effect, “In order to demonstrate a righteousness embodied in love for the Father, I will demonstrate to the world a commitment to His eternal plan, which includes My own death.”
C. Christ’s Compulsion to Love:
But, what about us? Are we so committed also? If a Christian is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-30), then surely this includes our commitments to this kind of love as well. In fact, in order to ensure that we are loving like this, the Father has given us His Spirit Who generates this love in our hearts (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22). Therefore, Christian, examine your love. Is it from your own resources? Is it flippant, superficial, and temporary? Or, is it solid, deep, and permanent? If it is the latter, it is from the Father and reflects itself in obedience to His commands, even if it leads to the cross.