“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore, I have continued
my faithfulness to you.
When our four children were small, Sherry and I used to play a game with them that went like this.
Parent: I love you.
Child: I love you, too.
Parent: But I love you more.
Child: No, I love you more.
Parent: No, I love you more.
Child: No! I love you more!
And so it would continue, back and forth for several turns, until Sherry or I would say, “Maybe, but I loved you first.”
Now the point of this game was not to decide who loved whom more. The point was to have fun saying, “I love you” over and over again. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Sherry and I loved our children first and it was our love for them that taught them what love is. We loved them when they were cute and when they were naughty. We loved them when they gave us hand-made Mother’s and Father’s Day cards and when they broke family heirlooms. We loved them before they were born and when they went off to elementary school. We loved them when they lashed out and disappointed us in the midst of teen-age rebellion. And we still love them now that they are grown and have children of their own.
The same is true of God. The Apostle John says, “We love because God first loved us (I John 4:19)” and Jeremiah speaking on behalf of God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you (Jeremiah 31:3).” Like Sherry and I with our children, God loved us first and that is how we learn what real love is. We learn love at a manger where the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. We learn love on a dusty road when Jesus reaches out to touch and heal a man with leprosy. We learn love at a cross when we hear Jesus pray, “Father, forgive them.” We learn love in a hymn, a sermon, or a prayer, when God’s Spirit reaches in to touch our hearts. We learn love through a friend who cries with us and prays for us. We learn love around a table when we share broken bread and crushed grapes in remembrance of Jesus.
God loves us first, last and always; there is nothing that we can do to destroy his love. Even when we say, “I hate you,” he answers, “I love you nonetheless.” Even when we say, “I love you,” he answers, “Yes, but I loved you first, and I love you more.”
© January 22, 2010 by Rev. Michael A.Weber
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