What are the words that best expresses love to you?
Is it “As you wish”? Or “I know”? Perhaps it is “*insert name here*, will you marry me?” or “I’ll never leave you,” or even “Till death do us part”?
Or is it, perhaps, For God so loved.
And we’ve heard those words so many times. They’re so familiar. Athletes write the reference in their eye blacks, stores put it on the bottom of their bags, and churches plaster it on benches at bus-stops. We have mouthed these words again and again at Sunday school, and yet sometimes never stop to think about what they actually mean.
The greatest act of love, and we’ve let it become cliché.
And, consider, God is Himself Love. (1 Joh 4:8) The definition of love is rather tricky to pin down, but the Christian can just point to God. His very character, His essence, and the nature of His being, defines love. Everything that love is, is encompassed in God.
The greatest act of love, done by the Greatest Expression of love, and we’ve allowed it to become rote.
And do you realize how unlovable we are? But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ( Rom 5:6) While we were yet sinners. When we were still His enemies. (Rom 5:10) Sin is the complete, diametrical opposite God. It is inherently opposed to Him. And we chose it. We choose to run away, we choose to flout His word, and we choose to follow our own miserable, twisted paths, that lead us to nowhere but destruction, death, and emptiness.
While everything in us still rebelled against Him, Jesus screamed with excruciating pain, Jesus struggled for breath, and Jesus died in shame. For us. To pay for our sins. Do we realize what this means? Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) But we weren’t His friends. The greatest love of man is dying for his allies, but the overwhelming love of God dies for adversaries.
The greatest act of love, done by the Greatest Expression of love, on behalf of the unlovable.
God’s love is apparent in a multitude of ways. But without this first, this greatest, this ultimate act of love, nothing else would matter. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (1 Joh 4:9) Without salvation, what good would be promises of crowns, of ruling, of comfort, and of peace, being still forever out of our reach? Jesus substitutionary death for us is the greatest love, opening the doors for all other blessings and promises to be poured upon us.
And because He lives, we live also. (Joh 14:19)
Do we realize how wonderful this is? Do we feel the weight of His sacrifice and resurrection? The fact that Jesus even became a man is an overwhelming proof of His love. Now take this further proof, His great sacrifice, His ultimate suffering, for those who despised and rejected Him, that by His stripes we may be healed. (Isa 53:3-5) How great is His love for us!
So don’t skim over John 3:16. Don’t recite it by rote. Instead, study it, look at the cross references, dig deeply into it. Realize how every scarlet thread of the Bible ties to it, and how the whole message of the Bible leads to it. The entirety of the Bible, summed up in a sentence.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
This is the greatest love. Don’t let it become cliché.
I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again
Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know its true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You
-Amazing Love, Chris Tomlin