Herein Is Love
A story is told of the artist Dore´ about one of his students attempting a picture of Jesus. It is said that Dore´ told the student, “You don’t love Him or you would paint Him better.” This story has become an oft repeated illustration for preachers. I have used it myself. In retrospect, I think that story might cater more effectively to guilt than inspiration. What do you think? It’s true that we have an obligation to represent Jesus to our families and friends. But it’s also true that there’s a reason why sincere Christians don’t paint Him better. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s that they can’t. We are not the gifted painters of Him that we wish we were. And this distance between what I know my Lord to be and my ability to show that to others is huge. So, am I supposed to stop trying because I am so limited? No!
Did you hear about the little girl who was working with crayons? Someone asked her what she was drawing. She said she was drawing God. When she was told that no one knows what God looks like, she responded, “They will when I get through.” I like her confidence, however… somewhere between the insecurity that would keep us from trying to portray Jesus and the presumption that puts us forward as the repositories of all truth, we must find ourselves.
Our love of Jesus is not self-taught. It wasn’t our idea to love God. It was His idea to love us. The aged Apostle John wrote: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10) You see God teaches us love…He inspires our love…He wins our love…in the Cross of Jesus Christ. We wouldn’t know anything at all about real love if it weren’t for that.
Human love is selfish and undependable. God’s love is unselfish and absolutely reliable. Our love bargains. God’s love is unconditional. Our love waits to see how it is received. God’s love is out there for all, no matter whosoever will or whosoever won’t. Our love grows familiar and takes others for granted. God’s love continues to delight in us all. Our love brings and puts people down. God’s love lifts people up. Our love is narrow, shallow and short. God’s love is broad and long and high and deep. His love is so wonderful and ours so unworthy that it is often difficult for folks to accept His great love. It is so foreign to anything they have ever experienced in their own family and culture. It really does seem too good to be true. But it is true! Gloriously true! You are beloved of God! If you are troubled today by your inability to accept God’s love or by the poor quality of your love for God in return. The answer isn’t in trying to trump it up in your own heart. Rather, “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished on us…” (1 John 3:1a).