A Costly Love

 
 

Each one of us has a deep longing to be truly loved.

But, in our desperation to be loved, we make compromises. To make ourselves appear loveable, we are quick to trade in authenticity for approval, and to sacrifice integrity for acceptance.

In this bid for the approval of others, we fabricate for ourselves a façade to cover our hidden vices and dark addictions. We neatly present our lives in our carefully-curated social media posts, and are quick to negate the inevitable question, “How are you?” with the evasive, auto-pilot response: “All is well.”

But all is not well. 

We have manufactured for ourselves an imposter, because if people saw us in our true state, they’d find us unlikeable and unlovable. Our imposter is a narcissist that leaches from the approval of others. It is entirely selfish, seeking to feed our sense of self-worth through the borrowed compliments of others. Our greatest fear is that one day the imposter will finally be sniffed out, that the façade will fall like a house of cards blown by a gentle breeze.

So we find ourselves alone - for no one knows us as we truly are; only as we have made ourselves to be. We find ourselves like scared children lost in a shadowy world of our making - a world of pretences and edifices. Our moments of greatest clarity are also moments of crushing anxiety - when we stop to reflect that, having submitted to a world of appearances, no one fully knows us or loves us for who we truly are. 

We long to be truly loved, and we long to be truly known. But we are constantly disappointed, constantly dissatisfied, because this is a longing that no finite, fickle and fading human love can satisfy.

Yet there is one who looks into the depths of our hearts, who knows us intimately. And, keeping His gaze there, He says, “I love you.”

This one is Jesus Christ, God-made-man. 

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.
— Timothy Keller

He searches the deepest depths of us, our flickering virtue and devastating vices, our moments of triumph and our crushing insecurities - and He loves us. His gaze pierces through the façade of our imposter, sees us how we truly are - and He accepts us. Through Him, we have God’s full approval and full adoration. Human love is just a faint mirror image of this all-embracing, validating, fulfilling love.

In this love, we are totally secure. Our identity is defined as children beloved by the eternal Father. No more striving. No more faking it. No more putting up a smokescreen just to appear loveable. God sees through it all, and in His Son, still loves us entirely and unreservedly.

For the Lord your God is living among you. 
He is a mighty saviour.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
— Zephaniah 3:17

But true love - the love that only God can give us - is a costly love.

God’s love for us cost Him the life of His Son. 

True love demands sacrifice. The depth of our brokenness, wrongdoing and hurt runs so deep that no other human being could ever take the weight of it. True and perfect love cannot overlook the evil in us, but true love is also a forgiving love.

This forgiveness is costly. To be truly loved - that is, to be fully known, fully forgiven, and fully accepted - a sacrifice had to be made.

That sacrifice was Jesus.

True love is sacrificial, costly, a love that no flawed human being can provide. God sent His Son to die on a cross as a substitution, to take the weight that we could not bear, to forgive us our wrongdoing and to bear upon His own shoulders our brokenness. Because of this precious, eternal sacrifice, God looks on us as He looks on His Son. We are given a place at His table, as beloved children - not because of what we’ve done but because of what the Son did.

The nail-scarred hands of God reach down to us; His nail-scarred feet run after us in love.

He alone sees through the imposter, sees the brokenness hidden behind the façade, and still loves us. He has done what we cannot do - that much is assured. He has paid the price, but we must acknowledge Him as our Saviour - as the only way to true love.

He confronts us with one burning question:

“Do you love me?”