“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).
New Tribes Mission reports on the way one group of Bible translators came to communicate the fullness of God's love to an African tribal community:
“The verbs for a particular African language consistently end with one of three vowels,” explains Dennis Farthing from the NTM Missionary Training Center. “Almost every verb ends in i, a, or u. But the word for 'love' was only found with i and a. Why no u?”
Dennis says the Bible translation team included the most influential leaders in the local community. In an effort to truly understand the concept of “love” in this African language, the missionary began to question them.
“Could you dvi your wife?”
“Yes,” they answered, “that would mean that the wife had been loved, but the love was gone.”
“Could you dva your wife?”
“Yes,” they responded, “that kind of love depends on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and took good care of her husband.”
“Could you dvu your wife?”
Everyone in the room laughed.
“Of course not!” they replied. “If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water and never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would have to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say dvu. It just doesn’t exist.”
The missionary sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, “Could God dvu people?”
There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of the elderly men of the tribe. Finally they responded, “Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, while all that time we rejected His great love. He would be compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”
The missionary noted that changing one simple vowel changed the meaning from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you, based on who I am. I love you because of me and not because of you.”
Dennis concludes, “God encoded the story of His unconditional love right into this African language. For centuries, the little word was there—unused but available, grammatically correct and quite understandable.” ["THE QUESTION THAT MADE THEM LAUGH” by Cathy Drobnick, published by New Tribes Mission on usa.ntm.org, January 3, 2013]
Have you embraced the fact that God dvu's you? John tells us, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Love is part of the nature of God. When we say, “I love you,” what we mean is I feel an attraction or affection towards you because of some quality, action or ability you possess. Our love must be, to some degree, based on the object we love. The reason(s) why we love is outside ourselves.
When God says, “I love you,” His reasons for loving you are not in you but in Him. God’s love for us is an act of His will. He is choosing to be committed to you not based on who you are, your goodness, your past or anything you can do for Him. This is because God’s love is perfect within Himself. Being a triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) God’s love is complete within himself lacking nothing. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Spirit, the Spirit loves the Father, etc..., a never ending circle of love. Both the agent of love and the object of love is complete within Himself. Our love is incomplete because the object of our love is outside ourselves. Our love is always based upon the other person being loved.
This idea that God can love us not based upon who we are or what we do is absolutely foreign and alien to us. So many seek to earn God’s love, be worthy of His love. We feel God loves us when we are good and God does not love us when we mess up or fail to meet His standards. This misunderstands the very nature of God.
This idea becomes further incredible when you realize that God’s love let’s us into the circle of His love. When we love God back we are completing the circle, stepping into the circle of love that the Father has for the Son and the Son the Spirit and the Spirit the Father. Then we too can have “God-love” for others. We can love others because we love God and because God is love. We can love others not based on who they are or even what they do to us or for us. We can love them simply because we love God and He first loved us (1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.”).
There is nothing quite like the love God has for you. Will you love Him back today? Will you complete the circle? Will the circle be unbroken? Then, when you love others because you love God, you step into the very nature of God and become, in a very real sense, the picture of God’s love for others who don’t know Him. Then they will see, not only that God is, but that God is love for them.
Prayer: Father God, we bask today in the glow of Your love for us. Thank you that it is a love based not on who we are, or our accomplishments, but based on who You are and Your accomplishment of salvation given through Your son Jesus. Help us to complete Your circle of love that we may love others as You do that they may believe that you are and that you love them. In Jesus name, amen.