It’s amazing how God created us human beings to be loved in our families and how, during the first part of our lives, we’re completely helpless. Whereas lambs are up on their feet and walking soon after they’re born, it takes us a year. We have to be fed, as we can’t find food for ourselves. We have to have clothes put on to keep us warm. We need shelter, and protection from danger.
In 2015 I held my grandson Joel in my arms. He was just two days old. It was the first time I’d held a new born baby since his mother was born so many years ago. I was overawed at his utter innocence and helplessness as he was starting on the adventure of life.
My daughter and son-in-law had spent nine months preparing for Joel’s arrival. Now he was here he received all the care and attention they could lavish on him. But they weren’t the only ones who wanted to show love to him. On Facebook we received many photos of Joel being cuddled, prayed over and blessed by a great number of people in the hospital, his home and two different churches. He was bought lots of gifts. Generosity flowed out towards him.
The next time we saw him at two weeks old I was struck by how unaware he was of all this love. He woke up and cried for food, spent some time feeding and then dropped asleep again, exhausted. Nobody expected anything from him. He was given unconditional love. He was loved for who he was, not for what he could do.
I knew that, as time went on, Joel would realise that he had a relationship with his parents and all these others, and he’d begin to respond to them. He would deliberately smile at them and then eventually begin to communicate with his first attempt at speech. But at two weeks old his world was still somewhat confined and limited.
In the same way God loved me before I knew anything at all about Him, when I wasn’t particularly interested in Him and when I wasn’t searching for a relationship with Him. God is a perfect loving, heavenly Father. He loves us before we’re born. He loves us all the days of our life, and beyond that, into eternity.
The Bible tells us that God loved us while we were still sinners; ‘but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8 ). This means that He prepared the way of salvation for us before we even came to be created, before we were conceived in our mother’s womb. God’s love takes the initiative, and He shows His love to us above all by allowing His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.
Our love for God is a response to His love. ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). In imitation of Him we start to love others. The apostle John explains that this is what God requires of us ‘And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother’ (1 John 4:21).
Just as a baby should change and develop from a self-centred state of only receiving love, food and protection to one of giving love and affection in some way, so we must grow up as Christians and start to give love to others.
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