Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Divine Initiative of Love

I love the Lord because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
(Psalm 116:1)
Yes, I love the Lord because of what He has done for me. Some people might think that is selfish, making it all about me. But there is no way to avoid it. The initiative — even the initiative to love — always belongs to God:
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins…We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:10, 19)
That is what the psalm writer is saying: “I love the Lord because He first loved me.” He knows that the Lord has first loved him because the Lord has been attentive to his prayers.

Why does God love us? The answer is found in Him, not in us. That is, it is not about what we have done or not done, it is all about Him.

Why do we love God? Again, the answer is found in Him, not in us. It is not about what we have done or not done. Nor is it about our capacity to love, for we have no capacity apart from Him. It is all about Him and what He has done.

The fact that we love the Lord for cause (e.g., because He heard my voice, because He first loved me), does not diminish His loveliness one little bit. Rather, it enhances it. In the Westminster catechism, the answer to the first question, What is the chief end of man?, is “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” When we love the Lord for cause, we are glorifying Him for who He is, embracing the initiative of His love.

You see, it is not about a ritual but about a relationship. God has exercised the divine initiative. He has set loose His love toward us — and in us — and we respond by returning His love back to Him. The circle of God’s love to us and through us is complete and has become larger in the process, because we are now a part of it. There is no end, only an ever-deepening discovery of the love of God.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you forever.