Fellowship of Christian Farmers
By Kevin Cernel
September 27, 2020
LOVE LOVE LOVE
Love is probably one of the most misused words in the English vocabulary. It can have many different meanings. Someone will say: “I love your sweater.” Or, “I love pizza.” Or, “I love to knit.” Or, “I love those stained glass windows in your church.” Or, “I love you.”
The quality of anyone’s love directly relates to the capacity of the one who gives it. For instance, do insects experience love? Is that speedy spider that races across your kitchen floor trying to deliver you a message of love? I doubt it.
What about bees? We have a few people in our congregation that raise bees. I didn’t know bees were even a thing until I started chatting with these people who raise them and harvest their honey. Are bees making honey because they love you? I doubt it – because if they were they wouldn’t be trying to kill you by stinging you all the time. Are they exhibiting some sort of capacity to love each other as they work together in cooperation in a hive? I don’t know that I’d call it love, but we cannot deny that there is community there, and they’re all busy accomplishing the same task.
What about birds? Did you know that birds keep the same partner for their entire lives? There obviously is a relationship there in some capacity. And did you know that God puts value even on the life of a bird? In Matthew 10:29-30 Jesus said: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care … You are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Good to know!)
Move higher in the created order and think about cats and dogs. Do cats and dogs have a capacity to love? It sure seems like it. The loyalty and affection of a dog is a special gift in the lives of millions of people. And the quiet, soft purring of a cat in a person’s lap brings comfort to millions as well. Whether cats are more loving than dogs is up to you to decide – all I can say is: they both have their place in our world.
What is the capacity of God’s love? And really, what is the love of God? And where is the love of God in a world seemingly gone mad? Romans 5:5 says that: “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
The love of God is beyond our ability to fully grasp, which is why we will be lost in worship, wonder, love and praise when the full extent of His love is unfolded to us in heaven.
But what do we make of God’s love here on earth? Yes, there are times when we feel His love poured out on our lives. But what about when God’s love doesn’t seem so obvious? What about when bad people get away with heinous crimes? What about when bad things happen and tragedy hits and people die? Where is the love of God then? How do we reconcile God’s love with all the evil taking place around us? It doesn’t seem fair.
Ultimately, God asks us to trust Him, to believe that He loves us, to believe that He works for good, and to believe that there is a purpose for the way He has made us and our world, even though we cannot fully understand His purposes from our limited perspective. In this age, we only “know in part,” but the day is coming when we will “know in full,” (1 Cor. 13:12).
In 1917 Frederick M. Lehman, penned these words in the hymn “The Love of God,” The love of God is greater by far than tongue or pen can ever tell; It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell; Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.
No wonder the apostle Paul prays for Christian believers like us, that we may “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of God. And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,” (Eph. 3:18).
(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor at Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).