Poets write about it. Song-writers sing about it. Actors and actresses portray it. It seems wherever you go people are talking about love. But, though love is talked about, thought about, and sung about, how often is it defined and comprehended.
The Apostle John has been called the Apostle of Love. It should not surprise you that he had something to say about love. Yet, John does not give a dictionary’s definition of love nor a poet’s wishful words. He defines love in the flesh, with an event. “In this the love of God has been made known to us: God sent his one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love: Not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10, my translation)
The phrase “one and only” translates one Greek word that occurs nine times in the New Testament. It refers to something that is unique and one of a kind. Interestingly, every time the word appears in the New Testament it always refers to someone who is near and dear. God showed his love by sending that which was uniquely his near and dear.
Where did God send his “One and Only”? Into the world. Though we often associate the word “world” with the physicality of the planet earth, John used “world” to refer to the corrupt ways that exist in the world (cp. 1 John 5:19). God did not send his One and Only into a joy-filled, glowing place; he sent him into darkness.
Why would God do this? That we might have life through him. There was no other way, so God did what was necessary to give us life.
In all this, God chose to love us first. Even when we rejected his One and Only, persecuted him, spit on him, and condemned him to death, God had already determined to love us first.
How did he do this? Before there was time, God had planned to send his One and Only Son to be a propitiatory offering for our sins at the appointed time. In a world of injustice, hate, and iniquity, would we want nothing less than the just wrath of God to be unleashed against such things. Through his One and Only, God found a way to both uphold his justice and his determination to love us.
Our hearts can not be moved to real love, until we comprehend the awesome love of God. How can you keep God’s love before your heart today?