by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
Have you ever noticed that the Apostle Paul never speaks of his love for Christ? Rather he keeps talking about Christ’s wonderful love to him. Neither does he exhort us to love Christ, but keeps telling us how Christ loved — and loves, us. This is consistent with the message specially committed to him: “The Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
The Law said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God” (Matthew 22:37). This is the very essence of the law. And we should love God, but the law cannot produce love, so God comes to us in grace and say: “I love you“. This is why Paul’s epistles are so filled with “the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:29).
The fact that God deals with us in grace does not mean that believers should not, or do not, love Him. The very opposite is true, for love begets love. It is when men come to know the love of Christ that their hearts respond to him in love.
Peter, like Paul, had once been a strict observer of the Law, but had since come to know the love of Christ in growing measure. The result: A deep love for Christ and the overflowing joy that accompanies such love. This is why we find in I Peter 1:8 those touching words that naturally overflow from the heart and lips of one who has come to know the love of Christ: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”.
Yes, knowing and loving Christ does indeed bring inexpressible joy, but we cannot love him by trying. We must accept His love for us in faith so that our hearts may naturally respond.