“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6, 8
Father in heaven, you love me. Yes, you love me. Though I confess that saying those words does not come easily for me, for I know how unlovely and unlovable I really am. As your word says, I am ungodly. In my flesh, I am utterly unable, powerless to do anything that would cause a holy God to love me. And so it is so hard to believe that your love for me could possibly be unwavering. Yet this perspective comes from a heart that misunderstands love, and thus, has misunderstood you.
When I love, it is often in response to good behavior, beauty or some form of success or accomplishment. I lavish affection on those who are lovely and lovable. The result is that my love is not love at all; it is reward. And so I assume that you love in the same way.
How I thank you that you are teaching me that your love is not reward. It is grace.
Your word tells me that you have loved me from before the foundation of the world. You knew that I would be an ungodly sinner, and yet you set your affection on me. I was not lovely, but you loved me. You have demonstrated your love for me in this: that while I was unlovable, you gave Jesus to die for me. Peter says that Christ died for my sins once and for all, the righteous dying for the unrighteous, to bring me to God.
You did not wait for me to become beautiful in your sight before you loved me. In fact, it is your love for me that now has made me beautiful. In the cross, Jesus has taken away my ugliness and has made me perfectly righteous in your sight. I am no longer defined by my sin, but rather, I am defined by your love. How I worship you for such a transforming grace!
Father, it was Augustine who said that the cross of Christ did not secure the love of God, but that it was your love for sinners like me that secured the cross. You were not talked into loving me, or obligated because of the cross. The cross is that which tells me what lengths you went to reconcile a wayward son and to bring him home so that I can know your love and be convinced of it.
So my prayer today is that, with the apostle Paul, I would awake to the height, depth, width and breadth of your love for me in Jesus. Yet, as the heavens surpass my ability to understand them, so does the cross. And yet, Paul’s prayer is that I would have the supernatural ability to grasp it—at least in part. So by the grace of your indwelling Spirit, flood my heart with an palpable sense of your kindness, your mercy, and yes, your love for me, so that I will be able to love others, not as a reward, but as a gift of grace.