We Love Because God Loves Us First

Jesus said: “… for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”  (John 16:27-28)

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Jesus tells us that God loves us, which then becomes the basis for our following the Gospel commandment to love one another.  “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  Our love for Christ and one another yields furthers blessings – God’s continued love for us.  Love is not an energy that is expended and exhausted, but in Christ is an energy that kindles further love. Godly love is related to life itself – not an addition to life, but the content of our life.  St Isaac the Syrian writes:

If zeal had been appropriate for putting humanity right, why did God the word clothe himself in the body in order to bring the world back to His Father, using gentleness and humility? And why was he stretched out on the cross for the sake of sinners, handing over his sacred body to suffering on behalf of the world? I myself say that God did all this for no other reason except to make known to the world the love that he has, His aim being that we, as a result of our greater love arising from an awareness of this, might be captivated by his love when he provided the occasion of this manifestation of the Kingdom of heaven’s power—which consists in love—by means of the death of His Son.”   (THE WISDOM OF ST ISAAC OF NINEVEH, p xii)

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St Isaac reminds us also that God “... wishes for our salvation, and not for reasons to torment us” (THE SECOND PART, p 177).  God is not watching our every step in order to find fault with us.  Rather, God in His love is always looking to embrace us and keep us united to Him.  God is love – this is an eternal truth which the Fathers saw as sacrosanct and incontrovertible. The Scriptures do speak of God’s wrath and judgment, but the Fathers maintained those ideas must be read within the truth and context that God is love, not as additional truths or contradictions to God’s own nature.  God’s judgments are meant to correct, teach and heal us, rather than merely inflict punishment and retribution on us. God patiently awaits for us to turn to Him and to accept the love which He offers us. There is another truth here:

“… the reality that God does not compel anyone to love him but knocks at the door of our hearts, wait as a beggar in his ‘absurd love,’ even desiring to ‘share the bread of our suffering.’”   (Michael Plekon, LIVING ICONS, p 91)

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God offers love to us, but we have to decide whether to embrace God’s love and abide in it.  We have to decide whether God’s love will become the basis of our own lives.