To be human is to be loved.

Not in a superficial or fickle way.

Not by another like ourselves whose love will always be imperfect and whose love will always have something fragile about it.

To be human is to be loved by God.

We read in 1John 4:8ff: ‘God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. … And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.’

Jesus, the Son of God, affirmed: ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ [John 3:16].

To grasp the power and the greatness of this love of God for us we need to understand that this sending of the Son to redeem lost humanity was not a knee-jerk reaction of God responding to an unforseen need. The redemptive death of Jesus Christ the Son of God was already an eternal reality before God created us:

1Peter 1:18-20 teaches us that we are redeemed ‘with the precious blood of Christ … chosen before the creation of the world…’

Titus 1:3 speaks of ‘the hope of eternal life, which God promised before the beginning of time’.

2Timothy 1:9 tells us ‘this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time’.

Ephesians 1:4 teaches that ‘he chose us in him before the creation of the world’.

What are these verses telling us?

They are telling us that when God created us he did so already knowing that we would reject him; he did so already knowing that we would rebel against him; he did so already having planned our salvation; he did so having already decided that his eternal Son would one day take on human flesh and human life; he did so having already provided for our redemption through the death of his Son that would occur at a specific point in history at a specific geographical place.

God created us, knowing that he would die for us. That is the solid reality of his love for us: to be human is to be loved by God.

It is this incredible love that caused the apostle Paul to pray that we ‘may have the power … to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge … ‘ [Ephesians 3:18,19].

In Jeremiah 31:3 we read ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’.

But so often we hold this love in contempt: Jesus said: ‘… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings; but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate …’ [Luke 13:34,35].

To know this love of God is the deepest joy.

To refuse this love is the greatest tragedy, the greatest desolation.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2013, 2016