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Agape Love: God loves you

Many words in English have suffered from ‘inflation’. That is, their true meaning, their value has been lost. And love is one of those words. It can be used in all kinds of songs and reality TV shows to mean something very different to what the Bible means when it talks about the love of God.

Think of marriage, good and bad. In a not so good marriage, one or both partners try to make the other person please them. It is about taking, controlling, and demanding. This power struggle rarely ends well, but it is very common. In a good marriage, each partner is committed to serving the other. They may ask for things, express their desires, but they never demand. The power they have they use for the other partner, not over them. This kind of marriage works because each is committed to seeking the best life for the other.

It should not surprise us to know that the very best marriages are modelled on the love of God. In fact, God often speaks of himself as the bridegroom (as does Jesus) seeking the welfare of the bride. This love, as shown by God, transcends the best human love, which by comparison is like a candle in the dark compared to the sun on a cloudless day.

In fact, it is true that the Bible can be described as a love story. God creates out of love, then watches as we turn away and ruin his world. But despite the pain we have brought him his love remains constant and the Bible story is about how God sets out to rescue us from our violence, our selfishness, the self-destruction that we have taken up.

When Jesus came into the world, this was an act of love. God in Christ became human to rescue us, and he did so by giving himself up to the violence of the world and suffering its power, allowing evil to flog and crucify him, and he did so on our behalf.

The Christian faith is not about being good enough to please God – we cannot do that. It is about seeing God’s love poured out in Christ and responding to that love. As in a good marriage we give and we receive (we do not take), so Jesus has given, and our job, our privilege, is to receive.

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