February 14 I Tuesday
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...” —Ephesians 3:17-18
In Philip Yancey’s book Disappointment with God, he writes about the fact that power cannot control love. He explains, “In a concentration camp the guards possess almost unlimited power. By applying force they can make you renounce your God, curse your family, work without pay, eat human excrement, kill and then bury your closest friend or even your own mother. All this is within their power. Only one thing is not: they cannot force you to love them. This fact may explain why God sometimes seems shy to use His power. He created us to love Him but His most impressive displays of miracle—the kind that we may secretly long for—do nothing to foster that love. As Douglas John Hall has put it, ‘God’s problem is not that God is not able to do certain things. God’s problem is that God loves. Love complicates the life of God as it complicates every life.’” In other words, God is looking for lovers, but love cannot be forced.
Some of us live out of just a partnership with God, where He does this and we do that, working together and seeing things happen. It is a good side-by-side relationship, but it is not a face-to-face relationship. In other words, it is not allowing the Holy Spirit to shed the love of God in our hearts whereby we experience it and respond to it.
Take for example, my laptop computer: it is highly intelligent—much more intelligent than me—but it is artificial intelligence. I could program my computer so that every time I open it in the morning it says, “Good morning, Charles, I love you.” Would you think that I would get excited to open up my computer every day going, “Whoot! Look at that, my computer loves me!”? No, I would get tired of it very quickly. On the other hand, if I get a text message on my phone in the middle of the morning from my wife, Hilary, saying, “I love you,” you cannot imagine what that does to my heart, because that text was not forced but was rather a spontaneous and true expression of love.
It is easy to imagine God like a big lawyer, thinking the gospel is all about meeting the requirements of His law. We can be obedient without being loving, but our hearts will become dry. Instead, our relationship with God is about knowing, experiencing and living out His love. A true expression of love is not forced or programmed, but overflows from a genuine relationship. As the Holy Spirit sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, may our response be that we love Him back.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for loving me. Rekindle in my heart a genuine love for You as I bask in Your love for me. Amen!