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Inadequacy humbles me even as I embark on an attempt to put into words what God’s love means. As infinite as His love is, so inadequate is an attempt to summarise it. Simply because it is opposed to the nature of His love to be limited to anything, including words.
“God is love” (Jn 4:8) – a statement that we have heard so many times that it fails to elicit an overwhelming response anymore. Numbness overrides. We are so used to love that tingles our five senses that it becomes hard to accept love that we cannot see, hear, touch, feel or taste. To understand this we need to go to the roots of our ‘love experiences’. Every form of love that we come across has some (if not all) of its presence in the flesh or the physical realm. Parental love, the love of a sibling, that of a friend, love between a man and a woman-all have its manifestations or its fuel in the five senses.
So we cannot be blamed for seeking a similar experience with God. Our thought pattern often goes something like this, “If God loves me, I want to SEE Him. Let Him speak to me so I can HEAR His love. Why can’t He let me touch Him so I can FEEL His love?” Well, God does give us experiences in the physical realm and there is nothing wrong with seeking them but we need to first understand that our God is a God of the spirit and that the truest, purest manifestation of His love will be in the realm of the spirit. So, no matter how wonderful a physical experience of the Almighty can be, the truth is that an encounter in the spiritual realm is worth much more than one in the physical realm and it is far closer to the reality of God. As Jesus teaches us, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Jn 4:24)
When we fail to have a physical experience of God’s love we often simultaneously fail to recognise it in any other form. This may lead to a deception that His love doesn’t exist at all or to a situation where we cannot accept His love. THE FOREMOST FAILURE IN MAN’S EXPERIENCE WITH DIVINE LOVE IS THE INABILITY TO ACCEPT IT. This can be due to a variety of subjective reasons:
- We fail to accept God’s love because we don’t understand it. But how can we expect to get our heads around His love when we cannot even get our hearts around it! The reality is that we don’t need to understand it to accept it. Archbishop Futon Sheen once wisely said, “We can feel the warmth of a fire without understanding the chemistry of combustion.” That is exactly how God’s love is and it takes some amount of humility to lay our intelligence aside and accept something that we cannot understand. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Pro 3:5)
- We fail to accept God’s love because we think we don’t deserve it or that we are unworthy of it. This is another BIG deception because the word of God teaches us that we are all unworthy “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). But God’s love itself makes us worthy. So we are denying ourselves of refinement because of the very thing that we need to be refined of i.e. our unworthiness! Where is the sense in that?!
- We fail to accept God’s love because we don’t know how to respond or reciprocate. But the fact remains that it is impossible to give Him as much as He has given us. Our benchmark from human experiences deceives us to believe that love works only when we give as we get. It is all about give-and-take between humans. But with God, He will give and give and give… even if we have no intention of giving back and even if we have no desire to take! His love is ever-present all we need to do is to become conscious of it and receive it. When God the Father GAVE His only son (Jn 3:16), He wasn’t perturbed by how many sought not to receive Him. He just gave anyway and He always does this even with us on a day-to-day basis.
For every fortunate human being, the first experience of love is that of a mother or father; the first memory of love is that of a parent. But the unfortunate thing is that the initial yardstick for love in a person’s life has human origin which is by nature flawed. A harsh but true reality is that no matter how much love a parent shows a child, it will fall despondently short of the perfect love of God. Every other form of love that follows along life’s way has a similar effect- each one falling short of the other – all of them falling collectively short of the alpha-omega love of our creator. His is the Alpha of love and the Omega of love, yet ironically it has no beginning and end! Any experience of it is partial at any given point. The discovery of it is timeless and never-ending. God’s love is the antithesis of a bottomless pit that you fall and sink into endlessly. It is a limitless sky which you can rise up and soar into eternally. Love without end. Amen.
All glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit