“We love because He first loved us.” - 1 John 4:19
“You did not choose Me, but I chose You.” - John 15:16
One of the most glorious aspects of the Gospel is that we didn’t choose God, He chose us. Not only did He choose us (by no merit of our own), but He placed within us a desire to choose Him back. He has done the miracle of turning our hard and rebellious hearts of stone into hearts of flesh that yearn for Him. Before we could have ever even mustered up a Godward thought, He did the work of enlightening our hearts and drawing us to Himself. We seek Him because we have first been sought. We love Him because we have been loved. We pursue Him because we have been and are being pursued. We long for Him because He Himself threaded that longing into the fabric of our souls.
Jesus affirmed this truth in John 6:44 when He said “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.” While this truth surely applies to our salvation by grace through faith in Christ, I also believe that it continues to be true in every other aspect of our lives. Not only did He draw us to Himself out of the darkness of sin into the light of fellowship with the Father, but He continues to stir and sustain within our hearts a desire to know and be known by Him. Literally every impulse that we have to “go after God” originated with God and is sustained by Him. It’s a wonder, really. That you possess any love for Christ at all, even if your love is imperfect, proves something very vital about you. The existence of your love has been awakened and cultivated by God’s love for you.
God graciously placed this yearning within our hearts to relate to Him and yet, like every other relationship, there is reciprocation required to experience the fullness of what that relationship is meant to be. That God gifted longing for God is meant to compel us into a life of wholehearted devotion and sacrificial obedience. While it is true that we don’t have much to offer a Holy God who is perfectly complete within Himself, He has given us all of our faculties that we might offer them back to Him as a sacrifice of love. It is the kind of love that Jesus expressed as the greatest commandment: to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. It’s an all-encompassing kind of love that doesn’t depend on human emotion and is evidenced by real sacrifices of our time and energy. It’s the kind of love that prioritizes abiding with Jesus above all else—the kind of love that places Christ at the center of every decision and every movement of every day.
I love what A.W. Tozer had to say about this in The Pursuit of God:
“The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the kingdom of God. It is, however, NOT AN END BUT AN INCEPTION, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead. That is where we begin, I say, but where we stop no man has yet discovered….to have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too easily satisfied religionists but justified in happy experience by the children of God.” - AW Tozer // The Pursuit of God
Our greatest attempts to repay the extravagance of the love of God will always fall short. But we get to spend a lifetime and an eternity on this glorious pursuit of giving Him our all, however small and imperfect it may be!