Jesus summarized the Law in the loving relational term: love God, your neighbors, and yourself. Love is a fundamental religious concept. Thus, John Caputo defines religion as “the love of God.” Since God is love, a religious person is the one who lives in love. For him, “the opposite of religious person is a loveless person,” not the secular person.
In Romans 5:1-11, we see the interplay among faith, hope, and love. The similar sequence appears 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” In the following, let us focus on the great love of God.
The Love of God has been poured out into our hearts (vv.5)
The love of God (KJV) has been translated as “God’s love” (ESV) and “his love” (NIV). KJV’s translation observes the genitive construction of the phrase. The love of God can denote “God’s love” and human “love for God.” The act of “pouring” is an intentional action as oppose to an accidental act of spilling. Pouring signals the beneficial purpose. The one who pours something out has the recipient’s interest in mind. Such is how God pours out his love for us. When he pours out his love in our hearts, he has our interests and benefits in mind. Because this outpouring of God’s love, we can overflow with our love for God. As just love begets love, God’s love for us gives birth to our love for God.
God shows his love for us at the right time (vv.6-10)
Romans 5:6-10 teaches that Jesus died for people who are being “powerless,” “ungodly,” “sinners” and “God’s enemies.” Powerlessness denotes being unable to do things for ourselves. The literal meaning of the word include “bodily sick,” “weak,” and “unimpressive.” Ungodly does not mean an atheist, but “impious.” It has the idea of being “wicked” as in “God justifies the wicked” (NIV, Romans 4:5). Sinners denote persons who have been shown wrong or who have been guilty of wrong doing. These persons usually devote themselves to sin and deliberately live in opposition to divine will. God’s enemies entails that there is hostility between these people and God. They hate and oppose God with hostility. Amazingly, God still sees the sickly, ungodly, sinners and enemies as human beings worthy of his love. It is on behalf of such people as these that Jesus died on the cross.
God’s agape-love is timely and costly. God’s love costs him the earthly life of his son. Jesus, the obedient son of God, died in behalf of human beings, the disobedient sons and daughters of the Creator. Divine love does not exclude anyone; however, there were, are, and will always be people who run away from the love of God. It is not that God does not love them, but that they neither love nor want to love God.
God has demonstrated his love for us. Let us response to the inclusive, timely, and costly love of God.