We see God’s love demonstrated in the way Jesus treated others, especially those who mistreated and hurt him. If Jesus exemplified this sacrificial and limitless love, why then, is it so hard for us to love those who have wronged us? My favorite philosopher is Soren Kierkegaard and, years ago, he shared the following parable.
The Girl With a Broken Life
There once was a king who fell in love with a humble peasant. She came from a simple family. In fact, she didn’t have the royal pedigree befitting of a woman who drew the king’s interest. She dressed in rags and lived in the slums. Hers was a broken life.
For reasons no one understood, the king fell head over heels for this girl. He tried to subdue his feelings for her but conquer them he could not.
The king wanted a relationship with this girl in the worst way, but that seemed impossible. How could he reveal his devotion to her, and also win her love? Perhaps an even more significant challenge, how could he bridge the cultural and societal differences that separated them?
The Need For Intimate Love
The king’s advisors suggested that he order the girl to become his queen. He could command her, and she would tremble. He could force her to move into his palace, but he couldn’t make her fall in love with him. Yes, he would have her presence with him, but what he wanted most was her sincere love in return.
We see God’s love in the way Jesus treated others, especially those who mistreated and hurt him.
The king’s advisors could have suggested that he bridge the chasm between them by elevating the girl to his standing. He could overwhelm her with gifts – beautiful jewels and silk gowns. He could shower her with the outpouring of his wealth and greatness.
Admittedly, she would be moved, forever grateful. But how would he ever know if she truly loved him or only loved all the gifts he gave her? Did she even know that he would have cared her even if she had stayed a poor peasant?
The King Who Became a Peasant
The king’s advisors proposed that he find a more suitable woman, someone more worthy of his love and the position of queen. But the king couldn’t do that. Every suggestion resulted in nothing. The king realized there was only one way.
One morning the king left his throne, took off his crown, and laid aside his wand and royal robes. The king left the palace and took on the life of a peasant. Like the girl he loved, he dressed in rags, worked hard, and lived in a slum. He didn’t just take on the appearance of a peasant, it became his life.
He became as ragged as the one he loved, in hopes that they might be united forever.
The God Who Became a Human
God always existed in heaven. He was God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. The Bible describes how Jesus (who is referred to as “the Word” and “the light”) was with God, and was God, from the beginning.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5).
God lived in a perfect community of love, and did not need anyone, but chose to create humans with whom he could share his passion.
God created these humans, and he loved them. More than anything, he wanted a relationship with them. How could he reveal his love to them? How could he win their respect? Perhaps, the more significant challenge, how could he bridge the vast chasm that separated them? God realized there was only one way.
John 1:9, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” Jesus left Heaven to come to the world. He became one of us, and he became “Emmanuel,” God with us.
Seeing God’s Love in the World
God loved the world, so he sent his son. His son came to love the world. When you look at the life of Jesus, you see God’s passion coming through. We see God’s love:
- in the ways Jesus chose his disciples, the guys he would train up to be the leaders of his movement. Jesus chose guys no one else would have had any use for. These were not people who had been selected first on the playground. They may have been chosen last. But they were the guys Jesus chose.
- demonstrated in the way Jesus dealt with people who were ostracized by others. Like the woman who was shunned by everyone because she had a disease. Jesus healed her condition and then, in front of everyone, he called her, “Daughter.”
- in the story of the man with leprosy who asked Jesus for healing. Jesus didn’t have to actually touch people to heal them. But this man with leprosy literally hadn’t been touched in years. No one would touch him because they feared they would catch his dreaded disease. But, Jesus reached out, touched the man, and said, “You are now clean” (see Matthew 8:3).
- exhibited in the way Jesus dealt with people caught in sin. Like the time he invited himself over to a greedy, immoral, embezzling tax collector’s home for lunch. By the time Jesus left, the guy was smiling, laughing, and giving away money to the poor.
- in the way that Jesus forgave and set a woman free who was caught in a physical act that, at the time, brought on the death penalty. Jesus was often called a “friend of sinners.” It was meant as a putdown, but he didn’t take it that way. Jesus cared for the sinners as much as he care for anyone else.. As a result, He came to bring God’s love to them in a way they could understand.
- reflected in the way Jesus dealt with those who mistreated him. On the cross, Jesus prayed that his Father in Heaven will forgive the people who stripped him of his clothes, savagely beat him, and proceeded to execute him. “Father, forgive them,” Jesus said, “They do not know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:24).
Love Revealed Through Our Actions
Soren Kierkegaard had a saying, “Love is the works of love.” When you love, it shows itself through action. Love always leads you to do something.
Take time and reflect on the affection that led God to come to earth for us. Love showed itself in the way Jesus loved others. Loving others IS the works of love.
There are times in life when the giants seem too big and game gets too intense. We want to throw in the towel, preserve ourselves, and hide. But we are called to more! In Don’t Give Up, Pastor Kyle Idleman explores the seasons of life where we feel as if we are hanging by a thread. Through relatable stories and Biblical encouragement, he encourages us to cast our concerns on God, trust in his love and timing, pray for patience and strength, and seek out support in the family of God. Don’t Give Up is available for preorder now!
Share this Post