Free love - Hope 103.2

Free love

By David ReayWednesday 20 Jan 2016LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Hosea 11:1-4

1            “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
                   and I called my son out of Egypt.
2            But the more I called to him,
                   the farther he moved from me,
              offering sacrifices to the images of Baal
                   and burning incense to idols.
3            I myself taught Israel how to walk,
                   leading him along by the hand.
              But he doesn’t know or even care
                   that it was I who took care of him.
4            I led Israel along
                   with my ropes of kindness and love.
              I lifted the yoke from his neck,
                   and I myself stooped to feed him. (NLT)

God hurts. He has feelings. He is no impersonal deity, observing us with dispassionate eyes from a vast distance. He is a lover, and lovers always get hurt eventually. This passage describes something of the pain God feels when his love is not reciprocated. Our own pain at rejected love is a pale reflection of this divine ache.

Some might argue that since God is all-powerful, ought not he compel us to love him. This ignores a couple of deep realities. One is that God voluntarily limits his power in this age. He doesn’t exercise his power to wipe out child poverty or political corruption or domestic violence. He restrains his power (and so often we wish he would not!).

The other reality is that love cannot be compelled. Forced love is no love at all. We can encourage love, provide a climate within which it can flourish, but we can’t make it happen. God does command us to love him and one another, but he cannot take us by the scruff of the neck and demand compliance. If we are to love him and others, it will be as a result of the promptings of his Spirit and our own cooperation with that.

Not even God can make us love him.

David Reay