“How can I get them to love me?” That’s a question we often wrestle with. It seems a little wild and crazy to think that the Almighty Lord of the universe would ask that kind of question. What adds to the craziness is the fact that the ones He longs to have love Him are undeserving, rebellious sinners like us. We might get a little uncomfortable with the idea that God is like a guy who is totally in love and longing for his beloved to take an interest in him. And yet in the Old Testament book of Hosea the Lord tells the prophet, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods” (Hosea 3:1).
The Lord’s love for us is like a man sending flowers and jewelry and expensive chocolates to a woman who left him, embarrassed him and is living with another man. People tell a guy like that, “You’re a fool for loving her. You’re too good for her. Forget her.” But God’s ways aren’t our ways. He keeps pursuing us. He keeps trying to draw us back. He keeps longing for us to love Him.
When we love something else more than we love God we become an adulteress. But amazingly God still wants us and calls us to repent and turn to Him. It would be gracious of God to love ones like us after we spent much time begging Him to do so. What is mind-blowing about His grace is that He loved us first, before we had any interest in loving Him. “We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19).
The way people often try to get someone to love them is by impressing them. They let the person know of their great accomplishments and abilities. They try to show off their looks and their talents.
God, of course, could put on the most impressive show of all. If He wanted to He could intimidate and scare people into following Him. But the Lord graciously says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).
God draws us into a loving relationship with Him by showering kindness and faithful love upon us. His plan for how to get us to love Him and follow Him is not by impressing or intimidating us, but by being kind and sacrificially loving us. His loving-kindness is seen most of all in God demonstrating “his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
In speech and actions, posts and tweets, the world seems to be showing less and less kindness. The world thinks being bold and brash, assertive and fighting back is the way to go. The world’s methods may seem sensible to human reason and impress for a moment, but they don’t draw people into a relationship with Christ. “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance” (Romans 2:4).
Being a kind, humble, gentle servant doesn’t sound like the way to get attention and applause. It may not impress the crowd but it will draw the humble and repentant to the love of Christ. And that is the mission of the church: not to show off to the world what we have done and can do, but to draw them to God’s grace and love. We draw them with kindness that is undeserved and love that is unfailing. We seek to draw them to the gracious loving-kindness of Jesus.