Ask any of the women I've never married.
Of course, there's more to love than what spouses express to each other. There's the nurturing, parental type of love. And the affectionate loyalty between siblings.
But how often do you think about the kind of love God has for each of His children? And how we children of the Kingdom treat each other?
Sure, we people of faith are taught that God loves us equally, but I've never really worked that out in my mind. Or my heart. Have you? The other day, my mother made a comment about how, just as she loves my brother and me as equally as she can, she marvels that God loves each of His children even more equally, and perfectly.
Wow. For some reason, despite all of the sermons and songs and Bible studies and liturgies I've heard about the love of God, it's never hit me like that before: He loves me just as much as He loves you.
And He loves you just as much as He loves me!
What makes this fact even more freaky is that He loves people you can't stand just as much as He loves you. And me. And everybody who we already love.
I'd like to think that I'm the last person for whom this reality has dawned, but judging by the ways many of us treat others, I doubt it. Within our communities of faith, how often have we done the very things we'd never do to our own kids - or at least, maliciously?
If you have siblings, hopefully you have good relationships with them, and treat them before God just as you would before your own earthly parents. Obviously, some family dynamics have been corrupted by bad parenting, but we should all have an idea of what a wholesome family looks like. At this point, I'm tempted to wander off on a tangent about how the state of our families at home will be mirrored in the integrity of our church families, but I'll be kind and resist. Except to ask; do we behave towards our brothers and sisters in Christ like we're part of a healthy family unit?
I know I don't. Not always, anyway.
Sure, when I know God's watching, such as in church, I put some effort into playing the charade, like disagreeable siblings probably do when they're at a family gathering. But when it's easy to forget that God knows how I'm treating a child of His, who He loves as much as He loves me, I sometimes disrespect His affection for other family members in Christ.
Obviously, God knows we can't love each other like He loves us. But oftentimes, I don't even try, or want to try. How about you?
Everyone who claims the name of Christ is loved by God just as much as you are. If you have kids, and you (hopefully) have no favorites among them, think about how God looks on those who profess faith in His Son, and how He loves them infinitely more perfectly than you do your own kids.
As much as you believe God loves you, with the daily trials and successes of your life, despite your mistakes and regardless of what you achieve, He loves both you and me even more. I realize this is Sunday School theology, but it's nonetheless true and vital for our interpersonal relationships. And our sanctification. Just as you think you know my faults, and I think I know yours, and we figure we can depreciate our level of love on that basis, God loves us perfectly, and He knows all of both our faults!
If we conducted ourselves in church, at work, and in the marketplace of ideas and culture with an intrinsic awareness of this reality, what might evangelical Christianity look like in the United States of America? What might the United States look like to our world?
Behold, indeed, what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)