Today it seems so obvious I wonder. . . How did I miss this? Yet at the same time it is so astonishing that if God Himself hadn’t said it, we would never dare to dream it. Even seeing that He has said it, I stand in awe and wonder whether I can possibly be hearing rightly.
How is it that God loves us? With what kind of love does He love? God is so holy, so powerful. We are so small. Aware of this distance, I’ve often subconsciously translated the word “love” as “mercy.” Perhaps even “pity.” As though He looks down, even stoops down, because He is good. Because His very nature is love. Almost as though loving us is something He “has” to do. Kind of like He can’t help Himself, can’t keep Himself from loving poor wretches – even though He may not find us particularly attractive.
But here it is:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)
It’s the definition of that word agapao, translated into English as loved, that wakes me up. “To have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard.” (Louw and Nida) “Show or prove one’s love; long for, desire, place first in one’s affections.” (UBS Lexicon) “To take pleasure in the thing [or person], prize it above other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it.” (Thayer)
This is not a love that looks down on the beloved or acts out of charity or pity. This is a love that sees beauty in the beloved, that prizes her, that is unwilling to be without her!
How do we miss this?
Is it that we simply cannot begin to comprehend what God could see in us, so we settle for assuming He doesn’t see anything in us? Might we instead ask Him to tell us how He really feels about us?
Do we somehow think it exalts God more if we emphasize his love as loving us in our pathetic state? It is wonderfully true that His love does reach us there. But stopping there far understates the extent of his love. The distance between him and us is real. But so is the fact that his love is great enough to close the distance, calling us deep into a Lover-Beloved relationship with Himself.
Here it is, so clearly spelled out, our frailty and the degree to which we are honored, our low position and the height to which we are elevated:
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You gave them charge of everything you made,
putting all things under their authority
(Ps 8: 3-6, New Living Translation)
Made only a little lower than God. Crowned (by His choice!) as queen, second in authority beneath Him. Made to share His creation. His work. His life. His heart.
Still not convinced? Stay tuned, because you’re not who you think you are!