As noted in the blog, A Marked Man or Woman of God, “The LOVE referred to here is not a mushy feeling or sentimental emotion.” Agape (uh-gop-ae) love is the unconditional type of love Father has for us, repeatedly demonstrated and declared throughout His word. And it is the type of love He calls us to, first for Himself.
Now consider if any man walked up to a woman and said, “I command you to love me with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.” You would consider this guy the ultimate jerk! A cad!! A narcissistic idiot!!! Who is he to command such dedicated love?
Yet this is exactly what Father does in Deuteronomy 6:4-6. “The LORD (I AM) our God, the LORD (I AM) is one. Love the LORD (I AM) your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” Jesus repeated and reaffirmed this command in Luke 10:27. So here is the Heavenly Father commanding us to love him with a complete trusting obedience and subservience that we would find abhorrent if a human even came close to commanding this. Is He just in this? Isn’t He being selfish??
Well, here’s the answer! Love is seeking for the good of the one who is loved, right? Love is “to look for the best for another without regard for the cost to oneself.” So Father looked around the universe that He had created, and tried to find someone better for us than Himself. In Isaiah 44 He says, “Who then is like Me? . . . Is there any God besides Me? No, there is no other Rock. I know not one!” He goes on to say, “This is what the ‘I AM’ says, your Redeemer who formed you in the womb. I am the ‘I AM,’ the maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by Myself, . . . who foils the signs of false prophets, and makes fools of diviners, . . .” So after searching His creation for anything or anyone that would be better for us than Himself, He concluded that there simply was no one to be found who could be as good and loving and holy for us as He is!
In 1970 Tony Romeo released a single sung by The Partridge Family that caught this idea of a lover who knew he was best for his beloved because of the sincerity of his love:
Believe me you really don’t have to worry.
I only want to make you happy,
And if you say, Hey, go away, I will,
But I think better still I better stay around and love you.
Do you think I have a case? Let me ask you to your face,
Do you think you love me? I think I love you.
Humanly, we must be very careful asserting this type of love for another, because we are fallible and flawed, distorted by sin, like David Cassidy, “You can’t believe everything I say,” and sometimes we are even unable to discern our own hearts. But in the Father, this is most certainly true: He loves us, and because He is best for us, He can command us to love Him in return, because He first loved us and loves up perfectly. (I John 4:19)
And this love of His was with a great cost to Himself. He could have looked across the ages when He created Adam and Eve, and seeing the rebellion of His creatures, simply eliminated this creation and started over and over until He found one that did not hurt Him. But that would have been less love, and more manipulation! And out of character for who He is.
C.S.Lewis understood this when he wrote in “The Four Loves”: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
For Father to have selectively created us would have denied that portion of His character that makes us “in His image” (Genesis 1:27) that is free will. And because He is love (I John 4:16) He chose to create us and become vulnerable to His creatures. Because He (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) does not change and is perfectly consistent within Himself, He created us with free will that allows us to not love Him.
So how do we demonstrate love for Him? Let’s see about that next week, February 8, 2015 , when we consider the second great command and consider some of its implications, as we continue to look at the Marked by LOVE.