The truest form of love longs to be received, not merely acknowledged like we might a friend nor simply accepted like we might an accolade, but chosen, preferred, treasured. By its very nature, love seeks receipt and enters eternal covenant with those who embrace it.
The book of Genesis tells the creation story, including a most small but significant detail: God declares his work complete and very good after his precious children have sinned in the garden. We know Adam and Eve are banned from Eden and begin to create the human race largely separated from their once intimate father. It wasn’t until their second round of children that the bible records “men began to call upon the Lord”. A few verses later, the bible speaks of the men who “walked with God”, a reinstatement of God’s presence with those who sought him.
Sin entered this world by our desire to know more, claim a greater share of glory. No longer able to live within God’s intended purpose for us, chafing against his sovereignty and our perceived shackle of limit, our sin necessitated an exile to true scarcity. A need is born; a longing established. We become aware of what love offers by what we no longer enjoy.
Could this be why we were exiled from Eden? Does God so long to be chosen that he gives man this freedom to choose fully aware of our inevitable sin to choose ourselves in his place? Is this choice so precious that God is willing to bear the entirety of this world’s historical and generational rejection for the few that would choose him? By receiving his sacrificial son, are we finally fulfilling this preemptively gracious purpose?
Christ on the cross is free will at its most wrenching: “This is what bearing our sin means to him: utter distress of soul as he confronts total abandonment and absolute wrath from his Father on the cross, a distress and an abandonment and a rejection we cannot begin to grasp”.* Jesus’ greatest suffering came as our sin tore from him his Father, an abhorrent, gruesome, yet, chosen moment for both son and King.
This is love at its most startling: preemptive salvation, grace in the face of sin. To know this, to know that we have been created to choose the One who first chose us, is an irresistible invitation to be well loved. Once we receive this truest love, we no longer choose ourselves but him as our worthy Lord. His intended purpose complete; Eden one day full of those who walk with their mighty God.
“Because he loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you…into the land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.” Deuteronomy 4:37
“Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him….With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16
*Nancy Guthrie: “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross”