Totoy has been courting Maria for years. Unattractive, unsophisticated, uneducated, and ineloquent, the only way he could show her his love is by sending simple love notes. He would religiously write one and slip it in her mailbox each day. Maria predictably looks down on Totoy. She considers his letters a nuisance and consistently ignores them, often crumpling them without bothering to read. She has a lot of admirers after all, and have no time for someone like poor, simple Totoy.
But one day all that changed.
For the first time in many years, Maria wrote him back. Totoy trembled while opening the letter in his hand and carefully read the words written by the woman he pursued.
"Dear Totoy, I apologize for all the times I have ignored you. At first I didn't feel any attraction to you. But now my heart is changed. I finally realized that you are attractive and charming and I find myself falling in love with you. Would you still give me the chance to be your girl? Lovingly, Maria PS. Congratulations for winning yesterday's lotto jackpot."
One of the attributes of human love is that there is always a person or thing where it is directed to. There is always an object for our affection. We cannot be in loved and say there is no one or there is nothing where that love is directed to. There is always a reason behind human love and this reason always resides on the loved. There are certain things we can say we love. We can love our iPhones, or our car, or our dress. We can also love something that is abstract. We can love holidays, or Friday nights, beautiful scenes or quiet moments. And most importantly, we can love other people. We fall in love with our mates because we find something attractive in them. We love some people because they are our family. We love our friends because of our shared interests and experiences. There are loves that are born of sexual desire and natural affections and charitable aspirations. In all instances the reason behind our love is based on the thing or the person that is loved. And more often than not, the object of our love has a direct influence on how much we love them. Our love may grow or die depending on them, and for this reason human love is not unchanging, and in many instances, unreliable.
But with God, love is something that is not based upon the object. God is love. Love is within Him and His very nature is love. This should give us pause for comfort. Human love is based upon our merit. Our mistakes, our failures, our blunders - all these can cause people to lose their love for us. People's love for us can change based on our performance and so we have to strive in order to keep that love.
But God's love is different. His love is a love based not on the loved but on the lover. We are loved not because of our merit or our performance. There is no basis in us that caused Him to love us. His love is unconditional. This unconditional love is the love he set on Israel and it is the same love he has for us.
“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8).
We are loved by Him not because of anything within us. We are loved not because we loved Him. We are loved simply because He is love.
"We loved because He first loves us." (1 John 4:19)
We were loved even before we were created. Even before there is anything we can do in order to "earn" His love.
“He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4–5).
Unlike many human relationships, we can’t add to God’s love for us. Neither can we do anything to make Him love us less. His love for us is perfect and complete. It is not based on what we can do for him or what we have to offer. It can’t be that way simply because he has no needs that we could ever meet. His love originates in himself and not in anything we have done or will do. His love for us is based on Him and what He did for us.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13) Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8
Let us embrace God's love and accept it with awe and wonder. Human love changes. But God's love is constant. He loves us not because of us but because of Him. He loves us because of who He is. And He loves us whatever failure and whatever mistakes we had in our lives. So we simply believe and have faith. We are loved.
It is said that when a university student asked the theologian Karl Barth if he could summarize his whole life’s work in theology in a sentence, he answered “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'”
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:15-16)