Sometimes the Christian’s life is seriously weakened by a common misconception. Q: What is it this common misconception? A: To think that Jesus’ love for us is like our love for him or others. That is, we think that Jesus loves us more when we are walking close to him, but he loves us less when we wander. We might think that when pray a lot, stick with our Bible reading plan, and try to evangelize, Jesus’ love for us grows, but when we forget to pray, slack off on Bible reading, and fail to share the gospel, his love for us lessens.
That is typical of our love, isn’t it? To paraphrase John Bunyan, our love for others rises and falls. Sometimes we love good people more than bad people, or we love people more who are more lovable. If someone disappoints us, our love for them shrivels. Even as Christians, our love is fickle and fleeting because we still have to deal with sin in our hearts, thoughts, words, and actions. In a word, our love is very imperfect and weak.
The love of Christ, however, is not love like that of sinful people. First, he was without sin. Second, he is not “just” a man; he is also fully God, so his love is divine, perfect, unwavering, enduring, beyond our comprehension. Bunyan put it this way:
“[Jesus’ love] is not attended with those unruly or uncertain motions that ours is attended with: here [in Jesus’ love] is no ebbing, no flowing, …no coming short; and so nothing of uncertainty. …[His love] always acts according to God; nor is there at any time the least shadow of swerving as to this.”
Later Bunyan talks about the biblical descriptions of Christ’s love as free, divine, heavenly, everlasting, and incorruptible. Since he does not change, his love for his people does not change and it surpasses understanding. The Bible is full of descriptions of the Lord’s perfect love for his own.
What a comfort the love of Christ is! He always loves me with that flawless love. He loves me when I’m following him closely; he still loves me when I stumble and fall. I don’t have to gain his approval, check off a list he gave me, or try really hard to make him love me more. He already loves me with a perfect and everlasting love. Here’s a staggering, blessed thought: if I fall hard into a heinous sin, he loves me even then. If you are a disciple, take heart in this: Jesus still loves you the same when you are at your best and when you are at your very worst. Bunyan again:
“He delights most in loving the worst. …He rejoices in the salvation of sinners that are of the biggest size: Great sinners, Jerusalem sinners, Samaritan sinners, publican sinners.”
We can see Jesus’ love not just in word (his words, Scripture), but also in deed:
“He was content to be counted the sinner: yea, to be counted the sin of the sinner, nor could this but be odious to so holy a Lamb as he was, yet willing to be this and thus for that love he bare to men.”
If you are a follower of Jesus and sometimes doubt his love for you, write his words down and keep them with you:
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9 NASB).
(The above quotes from and references to John Bunyan can be found in All Love’s Excelling.)