The Most Loved Lover

The ‘unmoved mover’.  That is the concept that the greek philosopher,

The famous painting, "The School of Athens", pictures Plato and Aristotle (right).

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), proposed.  Aristotle’s ‘unmoved mover’ was the first cause that set the universe into motion.  He described this ‘umoved mover’ as “perfectly beautiful, indivisible, and contemplating only the perfect contemplation: itself contemplating.”  The unmoved mover is not moved by any prior motion.  Being one of the originators of the study of formal logic, Aristotle explained this concept of the ‘unmoved mover’  using, of course, a logical line of reasoning.  This is Aristotle’s arguement:

  1. There exists movement in the world.
  2. Things that move were set into motion by something else.
  3. If everything that moves was caused to move by something else, there would be an infinite chain of causes. This can’t happen.
  4. Thus, there must have been something that caused the first movement.
  5. From 3, this first cause cannot itself have been moved.
  6. From 4, there must be an unmoved mover.

Aristotle greatly impacted philosophical argumentation here in the west and also greatly influenced many areas of scientific study.    Today, it would be fair to say we have our own version of the “unmoved mover”; we just use different terminology.  The popular terms being used today are ‘intelligent design.’  Also, instead of emphasizing motion, those promoting ‘intelligent design’ emphasize the order and complexity found throughout our universe as reason to believe there is a creator (whoever that may be).

Unfortunately, both of these philosophical concepts fall greatly short of the revelation of God found in Scripture 155629067_6f4379a2c9and in the Word-become-flesh, Jesus.  Here God expresses himself repeatedly in terms of “loving relationship”; both between the persons of the Trinity and also between the Trinitarian Godhead  and His creation.  Our great God is, if anything, ‘the most loved lover’. 

One of the first declarations that God gives about himself is spoken to Moses. 

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:5-7)

I think our western American ears have become very desensitized to the amazing revelation that our Creator and Father in heaven is a God of love.  This is probably because  our view of love has become tired.  When we think of love, our hearts and minds immediately gravitate toward all the perversions and distortions of love we find throughout our world.  It was profound when Pastor Mark Driscoll essentially said in a book discussing sexual immorality that “sex is most worshipped in all the world”.  So, our view of love is distorted and so we are quick to not want to associate our knowledge of love with God.  But this will not do.  To grow in our knowledge of God is to grow in the knowledge that he is a loving God who can be trusted and is graciously good toward us.  David understood this when he wrote Psalm 25:1-10:

1 In you, LORD my God,
I put my trust. I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.   Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long. 

Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, LORD, are good.Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.  He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.  All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

Reading these verses in order, we should notice a couple things.  First, the later verses are foundational to why David can sing the earlier verses.  The second point builds on the first:  David can trust in God (vs. 1-2), hope in God (vs. 3), and desire to know and follow the Lord’s ways (vs. 4-5) BECAUSE God is loving, merciful, good, upright, and faithful (vs. 6-10).

Do you realize how unique our God, the one who loves, ‘the most loved lover’, is compared to all the gods invented by man?  The idea of a loving God who not only means us well but also cares is what distinquishes the God who revealed himself through the Word.  There have been many gods worshipped throughout world history.  All of these gods have been worshipped out of fear or desire for appeasement.  There are even many peoples today that offer sacrifices to gods just so a particular god will leave them alone and no longer afflict them.  How different is the God of Scripture?  He desires worship in response to his love:

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. -Isaiah 29:13

When we speak of God’s covenant he made with his people Israel in the “Law & the Prophets” (OT) we often call it a covenant of the law.  But listen to how God describes it:

Deuteronomy 7:8-9  But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (emphasis mine)

Not only was the covenant built out of love, but also the commands themselves are rooted in people responding to God’s love:

Deuteronomy 10:11-13  And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

I am often struck when I think of how long, in my rebellious and sinful nature, I totally missed the whole point about God.  It grieves me to think of how many people have walked through life not knowing our God, “the most loved lover”.  The amazing thing is that we have already spoken much of God being the one who loves and we haven’t even yet talked about Jesus.  God is a relationship of three persons which we call a Trinity.  God is a relationship of self-giving lovers.

images
A symbol depicting the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

When Jesus comes on the scene it is as if  a “God is love” bomb exploded in a dark and loveless world.  The writers of the New Testament can’t escape the overwhelming manifestation of God’s love in Jesus, the Christ.  The text not only echoes the love spoken by God in the “law & prophets” but deepens the language to the point of God literally taking on human flesh and expressing his love personally, relationally, and even more tangibly.

There is truly an abundance of love expressed by God as Jesus.   Doing a simple word study on “love” overwhelms me.  There are so many verses to describe it.  I think focusing on four from John 14-15 will be good for now:


14:2
3
  Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

14:21  “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

15:9  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

15:10  “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”UHFinal1

Jesus came to reveal how God loves.  He came to show us the love of God and make a way for us to respond to Him because we love him.  Maybe love still seems distant and theoretical to you like it did to me for so long.  Spend some time in 1 John which is a letter essentially about the relationship between God’s love and ours.  For me, the “hinge” that 1 John hangs on is 4:8-10…

Whoever does not love does not know God, because 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.

Everything is built on the love of God.  His justice, his grace, his wrath, his goodness; it is all built on love.  This is where our adversary, the devil has deliberately focused his attack.  I don’t believe the devil’s primary aim is to convince people that God doesn’t exist.  All the devil desires to do is to call into question whether God is loving, trustworthy and good.  If he is not those three things, then not believing in God is a consequence since no one would want to believe in a God who is not those three things.

I am currently at a base for Chaplain training down in Kentucky and this lesson on love is one I am passing on to the Cadets that I have been given opportunity to serve.  It is a lesson that we must relearn and remember often.  The challenge I gave the Cadets is to grow in your knowledge of God’s love by mediating on Scripture and focusing on Jesus, the eternal Word.  It would be an awful thing to go through life and miss the love of God for beyond love only wrath and judgment remain (see John 3:17-19).  Since my first memories of hearing about Jesus, I have never been more in love with my Lord and my God, Jesus Christ.  The only reason for this is because I am understanding more and more the extent to which God first loved me and what that cost Him.

Grow in the love of Christ so that same love may pour into the people around you!!!

So be very careful to love the LORD your God.  Joshua 23:11
  

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