“The Measure of God’s Love,” by Andrew J. Schatkin
To understand the nature of God’s love in Christ is at best difficult since human love, or at least our experience of it in this life, is limited and ephemeral. The truth and the fact of the matter is that with the exception of a few outstanding and exceptional individuals, such as Mother Teresa and Albert Schweitzer, most of us may to some extent manage to love our children, perhaps our parents, and possibly our spouse, although the latter has proven to be problematic given the number of marriages that fail and result in divorce. For most men and women that is love’s end and maximum extension in this life. Some do not even attain to that level of love. Fathers may fail to support their children and mothers may abandon their children. Children may consign their parents to a home rather than undertaking any care giving responsibility.
What, then, are we to say of God’s love in Christ? It is commonplace to say it is unconditional and eternal. Perhaps we can best understand and embrace God’s love in Christ in that He Himself, in Christ, took upon and suffered the pangs, torture, and sufferings of dying, and death, dying not for one particular person whom he may have liked well enough, but for all men and women, past, present, and all future generations. We can only understand the depth and extent of God’s love in Christ if we ask ourselves honestly whom we would voluntarily die for and suffer for whether our mother, father, children, or spouse, let alone choose to die for persons hardly known to us and for those whom we may affirmatively be indifferent to or even not like.
The truth of it is that most men and women are intensely selfish and self-involved, largely declining to include within their personal orbit people other than their immediate family let alone choosing to die for them.
What is the measure of God’s love in Christ as opposed to human love? Its measure is that the love of Christ was so great for humanity, all past, present and future generations, and, of course, He took on death itself. God’s love in Christ does not come to us and is not given to us because we are so lovable and deserving of it. We are not. We are egomaniacs who will grow old, become unattractive, and ultimately die. We hardly deserve the undying and eternal love of God in Christ because his nature is love. He loved us first, and continues to love us not because of who we are but because of who He is, the source of life and love itself.
This essay is taken with alterations and modifications from chapter 5 of my book, “Essays on the Christian Worldview and Others, Political, Literary and Philosophical,” pp, 29-30 pub. by Hamilton Books.