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God’s motivation was love (video added)

I always tended to be an intellectual type. And though my parents sacrificially provided everything we kids needed – it wasn’t always easy, I know, and I will bless them forever for that – there really wasn’t much sense of affection, belongingness or guidance as I grew up. As humans, we tend to project our earthly experiences onto God, especially family of origin issues, and because of that, I’ve often had a hard time trying to relate to God’s love. I saw that love written in the Bible, I heard it preached, and I’ve certainly even had wonderful times of communion in prayer and worship, but generally I’ve not understood or even had a functional belief in God’s love for me.

Instead, the motivation I could relate to for God saving us was the one I had seen in my parents – a commitment to high principles and ideals, to doing what was right. God was going to see through what He had started. It was His duty, as the one whose idea Creation was, to put an end to the evil and chaos that had spoiled it. And after all, He had His reputation to restore. He had been slandered in the Garden, when the devil charged Him with withholding good from humans and ruling over them for His own selfish pleasure. That had to be set right.

So the most I could relate to was that God saved us in order to do the right thing, but in my heart’s thinking, love and intimate interrelatedness had no place in it. He remained aloof from us.

But I hadn’t followed through the ramifications of one foundational point far enough. God knew everything that was going to happen before it occurred. He so easily could have avoided placing Himself in the position of having to do the right thing, and having to preserve His reputation, all at such a high cost, merely by not creating in the first place.

But create He did. Now God, the Self-Existent One, is perfect is every way and has no needs, so why did He do so? It boggles my mind, but He whose joy is already perfect takes joy in being a “cheerful giver”, in giving us life and happiness. He did not have to do it. But in order to give us a life of unending bliss, He committed to a path that would lead to Jesus dying a horrible death on the Cross. He esteemed it all to be worth it, so that He could share his glorious nature and have communion with us

Not duty, not vindication, but Love – love is why He made us, and love is why He paid the price to redeem us.

The distinction between love, as against principle, being God’s motivation toward us is beyond enormous. It is the difference between a personal and impersonal God. It is the difference between having an arrangement and having a relationship. It is the difference between being alone in a crowd, and really belonging. In short, it is the difference between just existing and being gloriously alive.

Over in 2 Corinthians, Paul gives us a compelling graphic image:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2Cor 3:18

The right person could probably write a book on this one verse, but basically it tells us that as we gaze upon Christ’s glory, that glory fills us and transforms us into the very image of Christ that we are beholding. And it tells us that there is no end to it. As we keep beholding the glory, we keep being filled with more glory.

We can do that because we are “with unveiled face”. Anyone who has entered into covenant relationship with God through Christ the Lord has given Him the right to apply Christ’s holy blood as payment of our sin-debt. Just as the veil of the Jewish temple was torn in two when Jesus accomplished His vicarious, sacrificial death, when we trust Jesus for salvation the veil that separated us personally from God is torn away. We now have the right to behold our glorious God and Father in all His holiness, not through the keeping of law, not through external religion, not through any works of our own, but through the merits of His Son, our mediator.

Jesus the “only-begotten” Son of God has through His resurrection become the “first-born of many brothers”. We are adopted into the family of God, not as servants, being mere cogs on the wheel, but as brothers and friends. It is not a cold business arrangement we are called to, it’s a loving family unit. Mere principle is not the glue that holds it all together, and neither is vindication of God’s name. Rather, God’s unfathomable perfect love, lavishly poured out on us, is the very substance of our shared union.

Oh, how glorious heaven is going to be! That is why Paul could speak of all the woes and sorrows of this fallen world as a relative “momentary, light affliction”! It’s hard to see that sometimes, when troubles and sorrows come roaring in, but we need to keep reminding ourselves of it, because the beatific vision of God is where His “zoe” life is found.

Scripture warns us that God’s people perish for lack of prophetic vision. I’ve found that when I lack vision and can’t find my way through a situation, I need to repair back to the one central vision that drives the whole life in God. And that is the vision of who He is, what He has done and is going to do, and what ultimately drives His wonderful plan for us.

And the reason for that plan, and for the great and precious promises He has given us, and for the amazing introduction to grace that we already enjoy, is that He loves us eternally, with a limitless love beyond our ability to understand.

Praise be His glorious Name, forever.


  1. Doreen Saz
    July 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Dear Paul

    Therese Martin, only 23 yrs old when she died, found what you found and wrote:

    “When I had looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognised myself in none of the members which St. Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favourably within the whole body.

    Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more.

    I saw and realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.

    “Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.”

    Thank you for your sharing…very powerful!

  2. July 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks Doreen. You’ve given me the encouragement I needed to go back and polish it a bit! : )

    Your comment was very interesting. I found it a little hard to follow what she was saying, and I’d like to parse it a bit.

    First, I agree completely with her realization that love drives the whole thing. The first calling Jesus issues is simply “Follow Me”; everything else must stem from that – a fact which Paul affirms in 1Cor13, the Love Chapter: “If I [insert all kinds of impressive religious activity here], but have not love, I am nothing…”.

    But I became confused at her not finding her calling in the writings of Paul. I think she’s referring to the various gifts – the ministry gifts in Eph 4, or the other gifts in 1Cor 12. When I saw that then what she wrote made sense.

    I know nothing about her, but she seems to have the gift of encouragement, like Barnabus (bar Nabus = “son of encouragement”).

    As do you. Thanks for the encouragement.


  3. Doreen Saz
    July 1, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Dear Paul
    Yes, you are right about her referring to the gifts. In my effort to shorten it a bit I left out the important gifts she was referring to. Here is what she said:

    “Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of St. Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer.

    By chance the 12th and 13th chapters of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand.

    Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace.

    “I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others.

    For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind. ”

    That is when she goes on to explain ‘her vocation is love’ .. that her calling is to be ‘love in the heart of the church’.

    Such a simple yet powerful insight.


    • July 1, 2010 at 6:07 pm

      Ah, that is interesting. It really struck me that she seemed to be equating love with the gifts. This is seen in her statement: Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others.

      There seems to be a competition there between love and the gifts. But the verse says, “and yet G2089 I will show you…” JFB commentary brings out the sense of ‘yet’ ( eti ) as being “moreover, besides”. IOW, Paul wasn’t negating the statement he had just made about seeking the gifts, especially the greater gifts, but he was going to point out something that put the whole thing in perspective. This is what I sensed in her writing that caught me. There is no competition between love and the gifts. Love works through the gifts – at least ideally…

      I’ve often noted that 1cor 13, the love chapter, is placed right in the middle of ch. 12 and 14, both of which deal majorly with the gifts. The corinthian church was loaded with gifts, but short on love. Paul was trying to get their attitude right, but still encourage the gifts.

      Anyway, this woman had a beautiful heart concerning love. We all should have that, and hopefully function in our gifting as well.


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