God is love. That fundamental character of our Creator is declared emphatically by Saint John in his first letter. Love isn’t just a characteristic of God or something He does, it is His identity. God is love. In this world we have poor analogies to understand God’s love. We love baseball, we love ice cream, we love television. Our love for our family- our spouse, our parents, our children and grandchildren- comes close, but it remains imperfect, tainted by sin. To understand how God is love, we cannot rely on human illustrations, but must turn somewhere else. We must turn to the cross.
“My song is love unknown, my Savior’s love to me, love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be. Oh, who am I that for my sake my Lord should take frail flesh and die?”
God is love, love unknown. His love isn’t unknown in the sense that we cannot see it or hear of it. It isn’t love that is hidden or secret. His love is unknown because we cannot comprehend it, we cannot understand it. We cannot imagine why Christ would die for someone like us. We know our sin, our guilt, our shame better than anyone else. We know that there is little in us that deserves salvation. But God is love. Saint Paul writes in Romans chapter five: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This statement is the essence of what the Gospel is: love shown to the loveless that they might lovely be. Our hymn immerses us in that mystery. “Oh, who am I that for my sake my Lord should take frail flesh and die?” This hymn isn’t about our love, which fails and falters, but about the Savior’s love for us, shown to us on Calvary’s cross. This love is shown despite our sin, and it is shown to destroy our sin, so that we might be made lovely in the Father’s eyes forever.
Almighty and everlasting God, you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross. Mercifully grant that we may follow the example of His great humility and patience and be made partakers of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.