I do a great deal of time reflecting on my faith journey and the heart of God and who He is to me and to all of us. A verse stuck out at me yesterday morning from 1 John 4:19, where John wrote, “We, though, are going to love – love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first” (MSG). He loved us first. This statement is so profound and it’s something I knew, but not something I ever really thought deeply about. We have the chance to love because we were loved first.
Now there are all different ways that love is portrayed in this world. Here is the way Dallas Willard defines love. “Love is not desire – it is the will good on others. We say, ‘I love chocolate cake!’ But really we want to eat it. We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own sake.”
Now think about that for a minute. We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own stake. That describes exactly the way God loved us first. God has been promoting our good for our own sake since the beginning. Going all the way back to creation, God created us out of love with a desire to see us live fully as His image bearers. Ever since the Fall, as is chronicled throughout the Bible, God has been showing us love first, but seeking to have us restored to Him. Even when we’d fallen so far, He still sought to bring us back from death.
I just think about this verse and think about the love that God has had for me and throughout my life and I am in complete awe. It’s nothing I’ve done to deserve, and yet He still displays that love and I can see it all through my life and see the same love reflected in my loved ones, especially my Bride and our children. I understand the love of the Father for us as I am able to reflect that love to my family for their own sake, for their own growth, and for their own life and restoration.
I think about my oldest son, Shawn. Amber and I moved him into his college dorm last weekend as he begins his freshman year of college. While the dynamic in the home is now different, with only four here daily, the love that we have for Shawn, never changes. We love him by encouraging him to live out his life fully seeking the grand adventure that God has for Him. Notice that. God already had that love before we did and was after Shawn’s heart and showing him the great adventure. Now we get to reflect that, because God did first.
I love when God puts something on my heart like this to just ponder and meditate on throughout my day. It’s such an awesome reminder. Love begins with God, because He loved us first. For our own sake, He showed loved by sending Son so that we may be set free to seek the love of God and reflect that to those around us. He loved us first.
As the late John Moorhead, who was a mentor with Become Good Soil and Ransomed Heart, shared…Love wants to be known. He references Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy in sharing that we live in a God bathed world. God is here with us, not far away, but right here. God is love and love wants to be known.
God loved us first and continues to love us first. Because of that, we can love, so love well through the heart of God that is bestowed on all of us. He seeks that intimacy with each one of us.