I wrote a couple of posts not long ago on the love of God with special regard to the concepts of heaven and hell.
There are no boundaries to the love of God. What seem to be regions where there is no love of God are the projections of our passions. This is the tragedy of hell that makes the real hell, hellish. Hell is real but the conviction that there is no love of God there is not.
After all, does Jesus not say, “Love your enemies”? A god who loves only those who love him in return and hates those who reject him is the god of the pagan religions – a god that must be cajoled and appeased. That is not the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ does not just love (verb). He IS love (noun).
The Lord said to me (Hosea), “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites. Hosea 3:1
There is a story that comes from Wycliffe’s translation work in translating the Bible into the Hdi language, a dialect found only in Cameroon, Africa. As the story goes, the translators were having trouble finding an appropriate word to communicate the idea of God’s “unconditional love.” Verbs in the Hdi language always end with either an “i,” “a” or “u” and they already knew two Hdi words for love: “dvi” and “dva.”
The translators got together with a group of men who spoke Hdi to learn the nuances of these words. They asked the men “could you ‘dvi’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said, “that would mean that her husband loved her once, but not anymore.” So yes, it was certainly possible to ‘dvi’ your wife. But though it might apply to some marriages in the tribe they knew this word would not help communicate God’s love for us.
Then they asked “could a man ‘dva’ his wife?” “Yes,” they said, “that kind of love would depend largely on the wife’s actions, on what she did or didn’t do that made them love her.” Again, though this was a type of love these people understood, the word ‘dva’ would not be appropriate to express God’s love for us.
Then they asked, “Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?” Everyone laughed at this. “Of course not,” they said, “if you love your wife that way, you would have to keep loving her no matter what she did—even if she never made you meals, or even went to live with another man. No, we would never say ‘dvu.’ It just doesn’t happen.”
The translators sat quietly for a moment and then asked the men “but could God ‘dvu’ His people?” After several minutes they noticed tears coming down some of the faces. The men finally responded, “Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God would keep loving us over and over again even if we continued to reject Him and kept on sinning.” The translators had found their word.
By changing one simple letter—the vowel at the end of a word—the meaning of love changed from “I love you because of what you do and who you are to me,” to “I love you because of who I am.” Such is our gospel. It speaks of a love so amazing, so divine, that it brings tears to our eyes to even consider it.
Rob Des Cotes