The Mystery of God's Love in Relation to Renewed Mankind

by Father Matta El Maskeen

© Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great


The breadth of God's love for and in mankind

"The Father loves the Son" (Jn. 3:35,) because He is of His own nature.

"As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you" (Jn. 15:9,) because He took on our nature.

"As hast loved them even as Thou loved me" (Jn. 17:23.) A love springing from the Father's nature to us, as was given to Him.

"For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me" (Jn. 16:27,) because of our fellowship in the nature of the Son.

"That the love with which Thou hast loved Me may be in them" (Jn. 17:26.) Thus, we have fellowship through the Father and through the Son.

His love emanates from His own nature, and not due to anything within us. Therefore, He loved us without any prerequisite or merit on our part.

Our love for Christ through the Holy Spirit uncovers the depth of our love to God the Father and opens up the flow of the Father's love to us: "For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me and believed that I came out from God" (Jn. 16:27.)

Our love for God was impossible because of sin and the judgment of death. Removing the barricade, Christ, the Son, opened the way for us to God the Father's love. Through the cross He broke down the barriers, which were sin and the curse of death, that separated us from God the Father. He revealed God the Father's love, which He held bound within Himself, waiting for redemption, t he forgiveness of sins and the removal of the barriers: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (Jn. 3:16.) The Father's love was then poured out upon us.

The Father's love, which had been confined and forbidden to us, overflowed upon us freely in Christ through the cross. Previously impossible due to our unworthiness, through the opening Christ made for us through the cross, our easily ascended to God the Father.

"And this is His commandment, that we should believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another" (1 Jn. 3:23.)

Faith in Christ is completed by love for one another; if we do not love one another, our faith is incomplete. Such is the Christian faith!

Faith in Christ means love for one another: "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn. 13:35.) Of ourselves, there is no source of love for one another. With the exception of the natural, animal love of the flesh, this is difficult, and in fact, impossible. The type of love with which we are commanded to love one another by the Father and the Son comes from the bounty of the Father and Son's love, because it emanates from His Being and not from our human, animal nature. Our human nature is as the Apostle Paul says: "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh" (Rom. 7:18.) For that reason, He commanded us often and with persistence to love one another, because He is the owner and giver of this love.

From the bounty of the Father and the Son's love, we love one another and those close to us. It is therefore impossible to have the capability or facility to love one another if the Father and Son's love in us is not acquired through fervent worship. We love one another at God's expense, not at our own personal expense. Our love for one another is the realistic and honest proof of our love for God.

If such is the case, then, for those who love God, loving one another becomes extremely easy. No barrier can block it, not even death. The reason is that our love is drawn from the credit God entrusted to us, and is not related to our nature or our lives.

There are people whom we see and know very well whose love for one another has become a joy to them, a delight, a spontaneity; to the point of appearing reckless with their money, offspring, and life. The secret is that they are "squandering" from a fund that is no theirs but from an inexhaustible Divine fund. From God's pocket, they help themselves, then distribute and squander to those who deserve it and those who do not equally. Whosoever asks, give to them; do not reject the one who asks, for whatever is asked for shall be granted. Such is their attitude.

As they know that this is a very important commandment of God, they do not rest by day or by night in sacrificing and serving others to delight God's heart. Whenever they distribute generously, the bounty of God is renewed in their hearts.

We have faith and believe that God loved us in Christ, whose Father gave Him over to slaughter for our sakes. When we accept it, His love becomes effective in our hearts. With this faith and sincere belief, our feelings, hearts, and minds open up to realize the great extent of His love for us, and we are daily reassured of its existence. If we accept it with sufficient honor and give it our constant care, it will become effective and overflow from the depth of our hearts without effort. On its own, it will overflow upon everyone, unhindered by our weighing or measuring it. It is a gift of God that will exist forever, because, as Habakkuk the prophet said, it is His commandment from His own mouth, and He is watchful to fulfill and renew His work throughout the years (Hab 3:2.)

We said that God the Father's love for His only Son comes from His nature, and Christ's love for is also a love of His divine nature. Whoever therefore loves this love and sincerely feels it in spirit will feel the flame of divine love simmer in his heart, because he loives in the force of a divine nature burning within him.

For that reason, following the Resurrection, God the Father sent the flaming Holy Spirit. Coming in a clear and visible manner, He was sent through the Son to live in renewed mankind. He inflames our hearts and spirit with the love of God the Father and Christ so that we can live in the fellowship of the Father and Jesus Christ. "I send the promise of My Father upon you" (Lk. 24:49.) As Saint John cried for in his epistle, crying out to all the faithful that this fellowship is for them. In order that our joy may be complete, they too are associates with the apostles in God.

God loves mankind. He loves every one truly, made clear through the crucifixion of our Lord. If He loves the One, the He loves each and every one. Therefore His love for one goes inevitably to the rest. This is a right, an obligation, and it must be so, so that everyone can gather together through love.

Our love for God cannot equal His love unless it extends to everyone. "This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12.) With it, God thus becomes the all in all. For in Christ's words, "I in them and Thou in Me, that they may become perfectly one" (Jn. 17:23,) lie the extraordinary mystery of the nature of the divine love, the element of agreement, assembly, and unification. On this basis, Christ says at the end of this chapter, "I made known to them Thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which Thou has loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (Jn. 17:26.)

Take heed, dear reader, Christ is in us when He pours out His love in us. Therefore when the Apostle Paul says with divine awareness, "...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph. 3:17,) he knows He will come and with Him love, the secret key that opens the path to the Father. What more could the Apostle Paul want after the Father and Son have entered our hearts? Does it not mean that love has overflowed our hearts?

God, to ensure that His love dwells in our hearts in all its strength, immensity, and variety, sent the Holy Spirit, bearing the complete nature of God's love: "... and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:19.)

Does not that mean the fullness of God's love?

Written on the eve of June 6, 1999


Credit and Attribution:

Father Matthew the Poor is Spiritual Father of the Monastery of St. Macarius, Wadi el-Natroun, Egypt. This article was originally published by the St. Mark Monthly Review, a journal published by the monastery, and is reprinted here with express permission from the monastery of Saint Macarius the Great.

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