Brokenness fills our lives and our culture. Civilization continues to fall victim to brokenness and needs to be redeemed by love. The great struggles of our society are often the same great struggles which keep thousands away from God. The causes of abortion, divorce, abuse, and neglect are connected to the lack of godly love. The struggles in congregations are often brought about because they do not understand or practice the love of God.
We also struggle with love because we haven’t been given great examples of love. We often are unsure of how to love our spouses and our children because we weren’t given good examples of loving behaviors and relationships. This same problem shapes our relationship with God. If we haven’t been shown love, especially from our parents, then we won’t be able to accept God’s love. We will also struggle in showing love to our family if we were never given great examples of how to love others.
When we are aware of our sin and guilt, we may reason that God does not and could not love us. As we go through seasons of unfaithfulness to God, then we will question his love for us. These emotions and faulty conclusions will also keep us away from God. Thus understanding God’s love is a great apologetic tool for the world and comfort for God’s people.
Understanding God’s Love
Our hearts, souls, and minds need to know what love is. To know love is to be empowered to live with yourself, with your “loved ones,” and with your God. Although we will never fully comprehend God’s love, we can better understand God’s love so that we can better love and be loved.
We can understand love because God has revealed what love is. “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God is love and God has given us the perfect example of love. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). God’s love was and is real, intentional, sacrificial, active, and effective.
God’s Eternal Redeeming Love
God’s love is eternal, unchanging, and infinite. Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” The passage teaches two things about God’s love: 1) God’s love is everlasting, and 2) the everlasting nature of God’s love is why he continues to love his rebellious people.
God said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” The word “everlasting” עוֹלָם (ʿô·lām)” means “everlasting, forever, eternity, i.e., pertaining to an unlimited duration of time, usually with a focus on the future.” This word can often deal with an incredible length of time, but when it is applied to God’s love, it must be eternal love. Nothing about God changes. He said, “I the Lord change not. So you, the descendants of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). Just as “there was never a time when Jesus was not,” there was never at a time when God’s people were not loved.
This eternal love is based on God’s eternal, unchanging character. Since God is unchanging and since God loves us, then we can know that he has always loved us and will always love us. His love is eternal. In contrast to our fickleness, God is steadfast.
Jeremiah 31:3 also teaches us that God’s eternal love is the reason for his covenant faithfulness to us. We have broken our covenant faithfulness to him. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Our love for God may grow, and it may fail, but God’s love for us is eternally infinitely inexhaustible.
Despite the failures of Israel, God said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3). God’s faithfulness was not and is not based on our perfection. God’s covenant faithfulness and love for us is based on his perfection. Because God’s love is eternal, his sinful people are commanded to “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:7).
Enjoying God’s Love
When our hearts are filled with the love of God, then we should not be surprised when cannot help but love God fully. No creature ever deserved God’s love, Instead, God’s love is set upon his people in Christ and displayed in Christ. The great Golden text of the Bible is “for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV). As we keep near the cross, we are overwhelmed with the shadow of God’s love. Beneath the cross of Jesus, we can see the real, effective, sacrificial, and amazing love God has for his creatures.
At the foot of the cross, we learn that God loves us, but we also learn how we should love God. Our love for God is to be modeled after God’s love. Our love for him should be real, effective, sacrificial, and amazing in our devotion to him and affection for others. This love is redemptive. It redeems our broken lives. It redeems our broken homes, It redeems our broken churches. It redeems our broken culture.