How do we know God’s love?


(Helen Tan) #1

I’ve been in discussions on God’s love and interesting questions have been raised. While the subject appeared straightforward initially, I realized that there are aspects which I had not considered at length. The starting point of the questions was this: We speak of God’s love as being unconditional particularly in the context of salvation (there is nothing we can or need to do before we receive His gift of salvation). From this, there are 3 areas in which questions arose:

  1. Moving into a wider context, is God’s love for everyone – all believers, current unbelievers and even those who died unbelieving – the same?

  2. Focusing on what Jesus prayed in John 17:22-23 :
    “…The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” Can we expect God to love us even as He loves Jesus?

  3. When Paul prayed for us to know the width, length, depth and height of God’s love in Ephesians 3: 18-19 - to comprehend the love of Christ which passes knowledge that we may be filled with the fullness of God - it appears that comprehending God’s love cognitively can be difficult since it “passes knowledge”. Is it more likely that one would comprehend it better experientially? How does one know His love in the terms described by Paul?

I would appreciate your thoughts.

(SeanO) #2

@Helen_Tan Wow, deep questions.

1 - The words “love” and “for” are tricky here… God has compassion for all people. God never ceases to have compassion for anyone. God is “for” His people. God says, “Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained” (I Samuel 2:30).

“Steadfast Love” and “Covenant Love” are for the believer - those who belong to Him. God is “for” His people.

God’s arms are open to the return of the lost - He desires that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). The Father’s arms are always open to those who return home (prodigal son). He also makes it to rain on the good and evil (Matthew 5:45). God “loves” everyone.

In a way, God “for” His people because He “loves” everyone. Those who obey His commands and honor Him make the world a more beautiful place - a place of life. Those who reject His commands lead the world towards death. So by being “for” His people God is providing light and salt to the world that they might be saved.

I would also say that there are gradations here - God is ultimately “for” righteousness, beauty, justice, love & goodness and against all evil. So an unbeliever who still tries to obey his conscience may be nearer to God than someone else. Since God knows peoples’ hearts and relates to them as spirit - God is spirit - then I think it is unsafe to try to box people into “for” and “against” categories simply based on their current beliefs too quickly.

2 - Yes, I 100% believe so.

3 - These things are spiritual discerned. I Corinthians 2 and Romans 8 (The Spirit cries out “Abba, Father”) are good passages to consider imho.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

Hope that was helpful.

(Sarah Abigail Kuriakos) #3

Hi @Helen_Tan:

You’ve asked some interesting questions. Here are my answers:

  1. You asked if God’s love is the same for everyone. I think it would have to be, otherwise God would be playing favorites, and that would make Him an unjust God. However, there are two places in the Old Testament where it looks like God does play favorites, both of them in the book of Genesis. The first time is the story of Jacob and Esau. Esau and Jacob are the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah, with Esau being older by a few minutes than Jacob. But before the two boys are born, God tells Rebekah that Esau will serve Jacob (see Genesis 25:23). While it could be that this apparent favoritism was God-ordained beforehand (see Romans 9:10-12), it seems to me that God could just as easily have been telling Rebekah things her two sons would do ahead of time, without any intentionality aforethought on God’s part. That possibility seems unlikely, given the passage in Romans 9, but I wanted to suggest it anyway.

The other story from the book of Genesis is at the end of the book when Jacob is about to die, so he speaks a blessing over each of his sons. But first he deals with Joseph and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Jacob elevates to the status of full sons with the rest of his sons, but as he’s praying for them, he gives the blessing of the first born to Ephraim, who is the younger of the two brothers. Joseph tries to correct his apparent mistake, but Jacob tells him that he’s done it on purpose (see Genesis 48:13-20). I don’t understand God’s purpose in allowing this example of favoritism. It doesn’t appear to have the same clearcut indicators of God acting in the story as was true in the story of Jacob and Esau. As well, the story of Jacob and Esau is mentioned in a number of places throughout the Old as well as the New Testaments (see Malachi 1:2; Romans 9:13; and Hebrews 12:16 for example), where the story of favoritism shown to Ephraim over Manasseh is only mentioned the one time when it actually happened.

  1. You asked if we can expect God to love us the same as He loves Jesus. I think the answer to that is yes, because if He loved us less than He loved Jesus, then He wouldn’t have allowed Jesus to die for us. He wouldn’t have allowed Jesus to be a substitute for us, to take the punishment for our sin as He did. It seems to me an unfathomable mystery that God could love us as much as He loves His own Son, the second part of the Trinity, but incredibly, He does. I’ve heard it said that if there was only one person on earth, Jesus would still have gone to the cross and died for that one person. That speaks volumes about the inestimable worth of even one human being, much less the whole human race, each one of whom was created in God’s own image and after His likeness. I think the only answer possible here is absolutely, unequivocally, yes. God does love each one of us as much as He loves Jesus.

  2. You asked how we are to fully comprehend the width, length, depth, and height of God’s love. I think that, since Ephesians 3:18-19 says that comprehending it goes beyond our knowledge, understanding God’s love cognitively would be much more difficult than grasping it experientially, but once His love has been appreciated experientially, it would be easier to understand cognitively. Even then, however, I think God intends the true fullness of His love for us to remain at least a little mysterious until we stand before Him. I Corinthians 13:9-10,12 talks about this:

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away… For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.~ ESV.

And yet we have a number of clear descriptions in Scripture of what God’s love is like besides Ephesians 3:18-19. For example there’s I Corinthians 13:4-7,13 which speaks of the characteristics of unconditional love. And if you substitute the word “God” for the word “love”, as well as the appropriate pronouns, in verses 4 through 7 (because I John 4:8 says that God is love) then you’ll have a good picture of how God acts. To wit,

God is patient and kind. God is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. He does not demand His own way. He is not irritable, and He keeps no record of being wronged. 6 He does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 God never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance… Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. ~ NLT.

Unfortunately, the limitations of language keep us from fully comprehending the things of God, and I think this is especially true when it comes to understanding His all-encompassing love. English is particularly deficient in this respect. We English speakers use the word love to describe our feelings for everything from what we had for dinner (I just love that sushi!), to our footwear (I absolutely adore my new shoes!), to the way we feel about our spouse and our children (I love my wife with all my heart; my son means everything to me), when there’s no way we could feel as deeply about the food we eat or the clothes we wear as we do about the most meaningful relationships in our lives.

I hope I’ve answered your questions adequately, Helen, though I’m sure I could have done a better job. Also, there may have been some place where I said something in error, all unknowing. I have no illusions that I’m perfect, so if I made any errors, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Additionally, if what I’ve said generates any further questions, please feel free to ask.

(Helen Tan) #4

Thank you, @Sean_Oesch and @Sarah_Abigail_Kuriak , I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to join this conversation and share your thoughts with me. I look forward to expanding this conversation and would like to share some things which came to mind for me:

1 John 4:7 and 16 speak of God’s love:
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love……And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

God is love and as Sarah says, this perfect and supreme love is described in 1 Corinthians 13 and what is amazing is that Paul says that we can have this love. It just means so much more when I meditate on it this time. What intrigues me too, Sean, is your reference to Covenant love which I hope we can unpack a bit more.

From what I understand, God has used covenantal relationships in dealing with man and this is reflected in His repeated declaration that “you will be My people and I will be your God”. A covenant relationship is a bond in blood (seen in Genesis 15:10-21) and in life and death. Would one then describe ‘covenant love’ in terms of God’s means to express His love which entails sacrifice, security, forgiveness, acceptance, empowerment and steadfastness? What other implications of covenant are there which I might have missed?

This covenant relationship connects to Romans 8:38-39:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is one more question which comes to mind: how does disobedience or failure on our part impinge on this relationship?

(SeanO) #5

@Helen_Tan I think you did a great job of summarizing the implications of God’s covenant love

Regarding your last question, I have always explained it using the Biblical terminology of family. When we are sons and daughters of God, we become part of God’s family. Our parents do not kick us out of the family every time that we mess up. They discipline us for our own good. A loving parent never kicks their (usually adult in this case) child out until they have wandered persistently from the right path and, in love, they kick them out only in the hope that they will come back once they have learned their lesson.

Proverbs 3:12 says (and Hebrews 12:6) quotes - “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

As God’s children, He does not kick us out of the family every time we mess up. He disciplines us so that as I John 1:9 says we can confess our sin and be restored to right relationship.

However, there are cases when people wander very far from the right path.

We see how the apostle Paul recommends the Corinthians handle a case of extreme disobedience in I Corinthians 5 - “So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”

Paul turns these men over to their sin that they might understand the consequences and return to Christ.

I think this analogy of child is very helpful. Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

I think that as children in Christ we should grow older and part of growing up is becoming increasingly wise and obedient. God deals with little children differently then older children when they sin (I believe) and He knows the heart of each person to deal with them lovingly and graciously while leading them towards holiness.

Hope that sparks some thoughts.

(Jessica Henkaline) #6

Hi, @Sarah_Abigail_Kuriak, it’s good to see you on here since connecting on the Why Suffering elective. Can I make a response to your “justice of God” comment? I used to be very legalistic in my approach to God and others. Yet when you read the Bible, God doesn’t respond legalistically to us. It almost seems unfair or unjust. Or as you said, playing favorites.

I had a hard time grappling with my faulty understanding of justice since it didn’t match the Biblical model. That began a journey with the Lord, asking Him to reveal what justice really was and where I was going wrong.

Long story short, I came across a verse in Amos 5:6,7 (ESV) with a footnote that read, “Justice is much more than legal equity; it refers to the entire scope of God’s government of his world. Thus to “do justice” involves on the part of the government, a fair and just use of power and proper functioning of a fair judicial system, ESPECIALLY TO PROTECT THE WEAK FROM THE STRONG. On the part of individuals, “justice” involves honest and fair business dealings and faithfulness to keep one’s word, as well as not taking advantage of the poor or those with less power or protection…”

If we read in 1 Cor. 1:27-30: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Life isn’t fair but God is just. Although I hate struggling with my weaknesses, it drives me to God and a place of humility. And weakness can actually assure me that God will save (in His timing and His way) because He is a God of justice. Weakness is no longer despised but can be turned into something to boast in because God is a God of justice. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:10. That’s the grace of God.

(Helen Tan) #7

Thanks, Sean, for your reply. And Jessica, welcome to this conversation.
As I reflected on the thoughts so far, I’m drawn to ponder more on how God uses covenants consistently to reflect His love and develop our understanding of the relationship He desires for us to have with Him, and how it all culminates in the incarnation of Christ, Immanuel - God with us. Christ came to institute the New Covenant cut in His own Blood, making us the beneficiaries entirely by His grace. Nothing is left to our performance.

This brought to mind Isaiah 53:10 which says:
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

For me, this passage speaks deeply about God’s desire for us to have a humanly unfathomable relationship with Him. The Hebrew word for ‘pleased’ is ‘chaphets’ which means to delight in, take pleasure in, be pleased with.

Why would God take pleasure in bruising His Beloved Son? It’s because it is only in bruising Him (which takes us back to what God said in Genesis 3:15 when Adam fell) that we can be made righteous and brought into relationship with Him, followed by the infilling of His Spirit by whom we are able to cry out “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15).

I think this is such a powerful way to remind myself of and share His love with those around me, particularly during this Christmas season. Is there more or are there other aspects that I may have missed which would add to a deeper understanding of this love? Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

(SeanO) #8

@Helen_Tan As I thought about it, John 15 seems to be a central passage as well. And I think I have experienced its message in my own life. When I obey God and love others I experience God’s love in a deeper way. I still remember two times very distinctly in my life as transition points - when I decided to obey God no matter the cost as a teenager and the first time I spoke to a homeless man about Jesus - holiness and love. When I decided to do each of these things I began to live in God’s love in a new way. And that seems to line up with what Jesus said in John 15.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

(Helen Tan) #9

@Sean_Oesch , thank you for bringing in the added dimension from John 15 on how our knowledge and experience of God’s love is made richer when we obey Him. I was also thinking that oftentimes our primary focus is on our failures and we forget that we can also bring delight to our Father. What we can offer is nothing compared to what God through Christ has given us and we ought to always be mindful that all that we have is solely by His grace. At the same time, it’s good to know that there are some things which bring delight to God’s heart and here are some ways which I found:

  1. His people/children (Psalm 149:4, Ephesians 1:5)
  2. When we act in love in response to His love (thanks for directing us to John 15:10-17).
  3. When we delight in His Beloved Son (Matthew 17:5)
  4. An upright heart and prayer of the upright (1 Chronicles 29:17, Proverbs 15:8)
  5. Prosperity of His servant – to thrive, be successful and flourish (Psalm 35:27)
  6. A broken and contrite heart – a humble repentant spirit (Psalm 51:16-17)
  7. When we come before Him in thanksgiving, praise and worship (Hebrews 13:15-16)
  8. When we fear Him and hope in His mercy (Psalm 147:10-11)
  9. When we speak truth in love (Proverbs 12:22, Ephesians 4:15-16)
  10. When we do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:7-8)
  11. When we have faith in Him and come boldly before His Throne of Grace to obtain mercy and find grace (Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 4:16)
  12. When we are spiritually minded and walk with Him (Romans 8:6-8, Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5)

I think that the posture of our hearts will be drawn towards Him when we are mindful that we, His creation, can bring delight to Him because of His love for us. This has been a most enriching exercise for me and I look forward to more thoughts on this subject.

(SeanO) #10

@Helen_Tan Wow, very thorough summary!

When thinking about the relationship between God’s love for us and our loving response through obedience / joy in Him, I often think of I John 2:12-14

There is debate about what the categories “little children”, “fathers” & “young men” refer to specifically, but everyone agrees that John is seeking to encourage his audience by pointing out the genuineness of their faith. He does so in 3 ways:

  1. God’s love through Christ has cleansed you of sin
  2. You are loved/known by God - the Creator of all things
  3. Because you were transformed by His love, you live in victory over
    the evil one

No matter what stage we are at in our spiritual maturity, we are forgiven and know the Father. And as we grow, we overcome the evil one.

God’s love begins our journey as little children, it is the capstone of our journey as mature Christians and it overcomes evil as we grow towards maturity.

I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.

I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

(Helen Tan) #11

Hi @Sean_Oesch , 1 John is always a great place to meditate on God’s love. Thanks for taking us there. I’m just going to connect what you said to the following passages. I’m sure that we are all familiar with them but it just opened up in a fresh manner for me and spoke much more to me in the course of this conversation.

Looking at 1 John 4:12 and16:
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us…. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

And 1 John 5:1-6:
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Here are my thoughts:

  1. 1 John 5:3 connects God’s love to keeping His Commandments. There is a definite call to obedience in connection with God’s love - an imperative to love and be loved. I have often ignored this connection and seen loving others as being optional. What is surprising is that John continues to say that His Commandments are not burdensome. How is that not the experience of more Christians (including me) today? Is the love spoken here more within the context of the family of God since John speaks of us loving ‘the children of God’?
  2. 1 John 5:1-6 connects God’s love, faith in the incarnation of Christ and victory over this world. It is faith in God’s love as seen through the incarnation of His Son to do life with us and give His life so we can be adopted into God’s family that empowers us to overcome this world. This ties in with what you said about 1 John 2:12-14.

I believe John was the one who saw himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved and it was the strength he drew from that which led him to be entrusted with looking after Mary and ultimately writing the book of Revelation. How much would our lives be different if we stayed focused on God’s love and let it propel us to victory regardless of the storms billowing around us?

(Neal Tolentino) #12

Hi. Good day. I’m from Philippines, I would like to share:

John 10:14-18
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Jesus Christ gave His life for us, not only for the Jews but to others like me and my daughter. Jesus showed us what true love is all about by the experience we had in our lives, beacause He loves us , He provided all our needs. Jesus Christ changed our lives. He even called us adopted children (son’s and daughter’s) JESUS CHRIST our Lord and Savior, we thank you.

I don’t want to question God about His love, for He already provided Me and my daughter an answer : 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Thank you.
GOD bless you all.
All honor, praise and glory belongs to our LORD.

(Helen Tan) #13

Hi @Neal_Tolentino , thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your steadfast faith in God’s love is evident in what you said. The verses you quoted in John 10 connected back to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:22-23 mentioned in the original post for me.

I also read a sermon by NT Wright entitled “The Circle of Love” in which he explained so beautifully John 17. Here’s the link to the sermon:

Here are some highlights from the sermon which draw us to better appreciate the extent and greatness of God’s love:

  1. The supreme symbol of God’s love is the Cross. Wright says, “This is where we find the secret, inner heart of Jesus’ own vocation and ministry, the vocation which unveiled the love and glory of God before a hostile world and which was about to take Him to the cross, where the world poured out its hatred upon the Son of God and God poured out his love upon the world." Wright adds, “The whole point of love is that it looks away from itself; that is why the early Christians discovered humility as a virtue at the same time as they discovered the depths and heights of God’s love in the cross of Jesus.”

  2. God’s love is like an endless circle. “Whom God loves, He loves to the end; and His end is, not that He should cease to love them; no: His end is, to love them still…. there was nothing that love could do for them that love did not do for them.”

  3. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 takes us full circle back to the “ongoing and eternal theme of the love of the Father for the Son”, drawing us into that love that the world may see and know this love through us.

  4. God’s love is intrinsically connected to truth and holiness.

  5. The embodiment of God’s love in our lives is above all the revelation of His glory. God’s glory that was lost in the Temple, had re-appeared in Jesus. This glory will also be seen His followers. “The world needs to see who God is: neither a big bully in the sky, nor the sum total of all the impulses and instincts in the world, but the Father who sent the Son to be the footwasher, the healer, the truth-speaker, the life-giver, the one whose kingdom challenges the kingdoms of the world precisely because it doesn’t use the world’s normal methods of power and death but because it uses God’s methods of service and life.

It’s so good to be able to focus on God’s love and its wealth of connections and ramifications. I am curious about Wright’s point that “holiness and truth make a triangle with love, supporting it like guy-ropes on either side, and themselves infused with its inexhaustible richness”. Does anyone have more thoughts on this in terms of practical application and experience?

(SeanO) #14

@Helen_Tan Based upon the below context for this quote I think N. T. Wright is simply saying that when God loves us He also demands that we walk in holiness and truth. I have encountered people who say you can be Christian and still live in sin - Jesus never, ever did that… That is in fact unloving - the opposite of love - because sin is self-destructive. If we love someone - like a father/mother their child - we teach them to walk in holiness and truth. Everyone knows it is not real love to spoil a child.

3 John 1:4 - I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

N T Wright - Context for Quote -------------------

It is precisely one of the lies of this world to set love against holiness, as though holiness is a rather stuffy, second-rate thing which can always be trumped by the demands of love. Not so. That which calls itself ‘love’, but which resists the call of holiness and truth, is a dangerous parody. When the patient’s life is in danger, the surgeon uses the sharpest knife, not out of hatred but out of love. When we are lost in the mist, the guide’s job is to lead us to safety, not to take us on the most comfortable path.

(Helen Tan) #15

Hi @Sean_Oesch , your input to this conversation is much appreciated. I had read what Wright said about love, truth and holiness and as you pointed out, there are demands in God’s love for truth and holiness. Love cares too much to leave us the way we are in our self-destruction.

Yet, while the demand is there, God has also provided the means by which this demand is to be met. It is indisputable that when we depend on our own efforts towards truth and holiness, we are doomed to fail but God has provided the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE to ensure our success. What we need to do is ground ourselves and be secure in His love with the help and guidance of the Spirit of truth. Going back to Sarah’s post earlier and looking at 1 Corinthians 13:6, we see that love “does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth”- there’s also joy in the pursuit of truth.

It is love that fulfils the law:
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” You shall not covet,”and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10).

Love demands and love fulfils. When we behold Christ, the demand for truth and holiness is met by our response and obedience to His love. It’s evident too that we are all in various stages of this process and I was wondering if we could share our thoughts and testimonies of our encounters with God’s love to encourage one another and, more than that, to celebrate the glorious Incarnation of our Lord and Savior during this time. Thanks for reading this!

(Helen Tan) #16

Hi all,

I was reading what Ravi said in “Love unsought” and it spoke to me that God’s love can be known in our most difficult moments:

Here’s an extract of the article:

_"How do you know that God exists? How do you know that God loves you? These questions, upon the hearts of so many, have answers as real as the formative moments in your life.

As I have aged I seem to grow more and more prone to nostalgia. Many of us do this instinctively, clinging to memories past, perhaps looking backwards with the hope of seeing a purpose for our lives. When I travel to India, I make it a point to revisit time and again those significant marking points of my own life. As I recall these moments past but not forgotten, I hear the gentle voice of the God very much in the present. And God says, “I was there.” “When on you were on your bike contemplating suicide, I was there. When you were but nine years old and your grandmother died, I arranged for her gravestone to hold in time the very verse that would lead you to conversion. I was there.”

It is often in these harrowing moments—your parents’ divorce, your child’s birth, the death of a loved one—where God leaves a defining mark. There is reason you remember such moments so vividly. We have a choice to hear or to ignore, but regardless his voice cries out in our memories, “I was there.” God has been in our past. God is here today. God will be there in our future."

How often have I despaired that God had abandoned me in those dark moments and yet His love can be understood and known in them. Has anyone else known His love this way?