When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (NLT)
People like me have often concluded that our biggest issue in life is that we don’t love God as we ought. In fact, the bigger issue is that we are not aware of just how much we are loved by God. In fact, being loved, knowing you are loved, is the only context within which we can practise love.
It is easy enough to believe God loves the world, or the church, or humanity in general. Much harder to believe God loves me just as I am. God’s love is not some philosophical abstraction: it is his favour and grace and kindness shown to broken individuals who so often fail to love him.
God loves us as we are, not as we should be. Good news, because none of us is as we should be. Striving to be worthy of his love is futile. We mistakenly figure that how we think about ourselves is how God thinks about us. But his love for us is not based on how busy we are for him or how well we behave. After all, the supreme expression of his love came not as a response to our love, but an outpouring of his prior love for us.
Does this mean we just sit back and bask in his love without any response? Not at all. It rather means we give up trying to be the people we should be in order to be loved by him. Whatever we do for him is not an attempt to get in his good books: that has already been decided. Rather we love in response to his love. We do not change in order to be loved; we change as we realise we are already loved.