Bear with me for a few minutes of speculation. Imagine that you know nothing about God. Spiritual things are not a part of your life. Suppose someone told you that the God of the Universe left His exalted position and became human. Why would He do something so radical? When we view it from a human standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It sounds unreasonable.
First, we need to accept the proposition that God is Love. John 4:8 states that very thing. Not that God loves (which He does) but God IS love, personified. Once we have come to terms with that though we can look a little further at John 4:8, which reads “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. Love is who God is. I often engage in the practice of describing something or someone in one word. As I write this, former President Jimmy Carter is dying, in hospice care. To describe him in one word, I would call him “humble.” I would describe my wife as “loving,” but she is not love. Ricky Henderson holds the Major League record for stolen bases. Upon breaking Lou Brock’s record, Henderson lifted third base above his head, strutting around and saying “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest of all-time,” while Brock stood just feet from Henderson. The one word I associate with Henderson is “arrogance.” Love is the word that describes God. All He does is based on the fact that God is Love. We may not always see it but be assured that God wants the best for each of us, which is why we don’t get everything we ask God for. Many times, in my prayers, I have petitioned God for my desires. He hasn’t always given me what I want. But, in retrospect, I see His infinite wisdom with withholding those requests and giving me something better.
Secondly, look at the rest of John 4:8. It says if we do not love, we do not know God. An old saying once went “No God, No Love. Know God, Know Love.” Perhaps this explains why there is so much hatred in the world – stemming from non-Christians and so-called Christians. What does love look like? Saint Augustine once described what he thought love looked like “It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.” Love, on a human level, has been described as having the characteristics of communication, affection, trust, appreciation, and mutual respect. These are all good qualities but Godly love goes further.
Third, we need to return to the proposition that God became human. On the surface, that sounds preposterous. Unreasonable, even. Not only did He take the form of a human, he lived among us, showing us the Way. It cost his life. Jesus, Son of God died on a cruel cross to save us from our sins. God’s love is unreasonable from a human standpoint. But viewed from the wisdom of a loving God, it was perfectly reasonable. We are incapable of saving ourselves. He died to give us the gift of life with Him in eternity. Such sacrifice deserves our full allegiance.
In Matthew, Jesus told a parable about a servant who owed a large debt to his master. When the servant pleaded with the master, the master forgave the debt. Then the servant went out and accosted a fellow servant who owed him much less. The master delivered the first servant to the jailers, saying “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” We are the first servant who has been forgiven a debt so large we could never repay it. Our response should be one of love and forgiveness to our fellow debtors.
Lady Julian from the 1300’s stated “Out of His goodness, God made us. Out of his goodness, He keeps us. When man had sinned, He redeemed us again out of his goodness. Then do you not suppose that God will give His children the best of everything out of His goodness?” He loves us so unreasonably, we must respond in kind. Hallelujah! What a loving God we serve!