R. Joseph Owles
A Sheep Among Wolves
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 09:38 AM
God’s love is said to be “unfailing.” Unfailing, of course, means “consistent” and “reliable” and in my mind means “never ending.” So when I hear of God’s love as unfailing, my mind always heard it as “God’s love never ends” or “There is no limit to God’s love.”

But unfailing also means “without error or fault”–in fact, that’s the first definition in my dictionary. So the primary meaning of unfailing is “without error or fault,” which is not what I normally think when I hear of God’s love being unfailing. I’m sure in some academic, theologically correct portion of my brain, I know that God’s love is perfect, and therefore, without fault or error, but when I hear of God’s love for me as unfailing, that’s not really how I think about it. I think there is a part of me that thinks that God should know better, that even I know that I am unworthy of being loved, so certainly God knows it too. But yet, I am told over and over that God loves me, and that his love is unfailing, and that means his love for me is perfect and enduring. I am not unlovable because the perfect God loves me perfectly–and there’s nothing I can do about that, so I may as well start accepting it.

Of course this also means that God’s love for others is also perfect and enduring. I may find it hard or even impossible to love certain people, but God doesn’t, and God is right because God’s love is without fault or error. So if God loves the person I may not love, then I may as well accept that too.

And I guess, what all this means is that if my goal is to emulate God, to have God dwell within me and be expressed through me, to feel a genuine connection and bond with God, then I must make it a daily practice of loving myself and loving others, because God does, and God’s love is without fault or error.

God’s love is also said to be “lavish.” Lavish is “sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious.” It is also “very generous or extravagant.” The word lavish comes from the Old French lavasse which means “deluge of rain” and that comes from the Latin laver “to wash.”

God’s love is sumptuous, elaborate, luxurious, generous, and extravagant. God’s love bathes us, it comes on us like a flood and we are swimming in God’s love, or maybe even drowning in God’s love. A flood is unstoppable and relentless. God’s love cannot be stopped.

God’s love is also said to be “extravagant,” which means “lacking restraint in spending or using resources.” It also means “exceeding what is reasonable or appropriate,” “absurd,” and even “costing too much.”

God doesn’t hold back his love. It is a flood of love that may seem unreasonable and absurd. I think that the unreasonableness and absurdity of God’s love applies more when I think of some others being loved than when I think of God loving me. As hard as it may be to feel lovable sometimes, I do take God’s love for granted. But I am sometimes offended that God may love some other people that I deem unworthy of God’s love. The idea of God loving Hitler, for instance, is offensive; let alone the idea that God loves Hitler as much as me, or even as much as he loves Jesus. I don’t like that thought. But God’s love is unreasonable and absurd. There are no restraints to it. The only restraints on God’s love are those I attempt to impose on it. But God’s love is without fault or error, so if it seem unreasonable and absurd or inappropriate, then it is a problem with me and my understanding, not a problem for God or his love.

And God’s love is costly–God paid a huge bill to love me. He paid with the blood of his Son Jesus Christ. By sacrificing his Son, God opened the channels of love that were blocked by my sin and rebellion against that love. I built barriers against God’s love, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ allowed God’s love to break over any barriers I constructed or could ever construct. God’s love is a flood and I am swimming in it.

God’s love is also said to be “wondrous”–It inspires wonder, which is to say it inspires questions–and God is not afraid of the questions I ask. God’s love is“indiscriminate”–it is done at random or without careful judgment. God’s love is “boundless”–unlimited, immense, and enthusiastic. And it is “unconditional”–there are no qualifications or requirements to be loved.

God has chosen me to be loved. I am the beloved of God. I am the chosen one. These are bold statements, and not proceeding from my own mind, but offered to me in the Jesuit devotional. It is scarey to think of myself as the chosen one, reminding myself that it is not The Chosen One, but if it is true that I am in Christ, then I am in the Chosen One and therefore chosen; if it is true that God has called me, then I am chosen. If it is true that God loves me in the same way that God loves Jesus (John 17:23), then I am chosen. And Jesus himself said, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you”; therefore, I am chosen.

The question comes down to: “Is this something I can truly embrace?”

So today I will ponder what it means to be rooted and grounded in love.

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