In preparing to write my post today, as usual I was thinking of what the title would be. And 'For the love of Pete' popped into my mind. So of course, the nerd that I am, I had to look up when and why the phrase originated. It was first used in the early 1900's as a euphemism for 'the love of God'. It was used so that instead of using God's name in vain when exasperated, Pete's name was used. And they are guessing that Pete was referring to the Peter of the Bible. Being me, I found that amusing, as the point of the post today is to get you and me, all of us to finally understand how much God loves us, for Pete's sake. And how He gave His Son for all of us, for the love of us. For the love of Pete, and Scott and Amanda and Elizabeth and Gail and _______________ (insert your name).
The thing that we have a hard time understanding with our finite puny brains though is that God does not just love...God is love. That is hard for us to wrap our minds around. We humans usually love for a variety of reasons. We love because someone is good to us. We love because someone meets our expectations. We love because we are attracted to them. We love people, but we also say we love things. "Oh, I just love that purse in the window". "I love me a great big charred steak". "I love hiking". Or my favorite, "I love my car". Yes I am guilty of that one! For us love seems to cover a multitude of ideas. Appreciation, enjoyment, attraction, desire. Somehow wrap up all that we think of love; I love my husband, I love my wife, I love my child, I love the smell of puppy breath, I love looking at the sunset, I love the sound of rain on a metal roof, I love coffee in the morning...wrap all those up together and...nope, not even then. Even all of that doesn't come close to defining or expressing God and His love for us. Because as hard as it is to fathom, God doesn't just love, He IS love. How do I explain that? I can't. But I believe the scriptures and they tell me that He is. 1 John 4:8 (AMP) says this, "The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]" And this verse in 1 John 4:16, "We have come to know [by personal observation and experience], and have believed [with deep, consistent faith] the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides continually in him." (AMP)
Those verses tell us that God is love. But they also tell us that the only way we come to understand that is to know God. We become acquainted with Him as it says in verse 8. We come to salvation knowledge of Him and then we begin to dig deeper. When you met the person that you married or that you have fallen in love with, you don't just say, ok I'm in love with you. You begin to get to know that person. First you spend time talking. I remember the first night I met my husband Jim, we sat at Hobo Joe's in Lake Havasu for quite a few hours talking and then we went under the London Bridge and sat until about 2 in the morning getting to know each other. And as time goes by, you dig a bit deeper. They like eggs, they don't like yogurt. They like this football team, not that one. They like camping, not staying in hotels. But if you care deeply for someone, you don't just stop at those peripheral things. You want to know THEM. Why do they think the way they do? Why do they feel melancholy when it rains. Why do fireworks make them feel joyful. Why do marching bands make them cry? Why do they seem to get sad in October? You want to get to know the essence of them. And the same goes for God. If we say we are His, then first we understand that He loves us, but then we burrow down deeper and we realize that the essence of Him IS love.
He loves us because that is His nature, not because of something awesomely wonderful and terrific that we have done. Believe me, there is nothing that great that I have ever done that could deserve that kind of love from Him. But my not being awesomely fantastic and super-duper wonderful does not stop Him from loving me. I have been reading books by the author Brennan Manning. If you have never read him, I suggest that you do. This is a man, who broken found a love in God that most of us cannot even begin to understand. Yet he explains it all so well that we cannot help but see God in a new light. This is a bit of a lengthy quote from his book "The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus" but it brings to light His love for us. "The love of God embodied in Jesus is radically different from our natural human way of loving. As a man, I am drawn to love appealing things and persons. I love the Jersey Shore and Clearwater Beach at sunset, Handel 'Messiah', hot fudge sundaes, and my wife, Roslyn. There is a common denominator or better, a common dynamic in all of them. I am attracted by certain qualities that I find congenial. When I love as a man I am drawn by the good perceived in the other. I love someone for what I find in him or her. Now: unlike ourselves, the Father of Jesus loves men and women, not for what he finds in them, but for what lies within himself. It is not because men and women are good that he loves them, nor only good men and women that he loves. It is because he is so unutterably good that he loves all persons, good and evil.... He loves the loveless, the unloving, and the unlovable. He does not detect what is congenial, appealing, attractive, and respond to it with his favour. In fact, he does not respond at all. The Father of Jesus is a source. He acts; he does not react. He initiates love. He is love without motive."
Oh how I hope you can grasp that today. That it is not you that makes God love you. It is Him. He cannot help but love you because He is love. He cannot help but love you because He created you for that purpose. He cannot help but love you because that is His nature and He cannot and does not change. He cannot help but love you, because as it says in Numbers 23:19 in the International Children's bible, (so if a kid can get this, we can too...)"God is not a man. He will not lie. God is not a human being. He does not change his mind. What he says he will do, he does. What he promises, he keeps."
So for the love of Pete, will you finally get how much He loves you? How much He desires relationship with you. How eager He is that you get to know Him and understand Him. The picture of the church as the bride and Christ as a groom is meaningful. He wants that deep, seeking, loving affinity and rapport with you. Just as when you were courting your mate or loved one, using an old-fashioned word, He wants you to pine for Him. To long for Him. To wake up thinking of Him and to go to bed with Him as your last thought. To be expectant of your next meeting with Him. To take all your hurts and pains to Him as well as your joys and delights. He wants all of you. And when you love someone, that is what you are willing to give. All of yourself. After all, He gave all of Himself for us, didn't He?
Definition of "for the love of Pete" from The Grammarphobia Blog", for Pete's sake
Brennan Manning, "The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus"