Imagine that someone you love deeply is involved in an automobile accident. For ease of illustration, imagine that you’re a parent and the person injured is your only son. After the accident, for the longest time, he is in a coma and the doctors are not sure that he is going to make it. You are naturally by his bedside every day.
Then one day, joy of joys, his eyes flutter open, and he says he is thirsty. You are overjoyed! You’re hugging him and crying over him. It’s the best day of your life. Then the best day of your life becomes one of the worst, when he utters those three words: “Who are you?”
That’s right – your beloved son has amnesia and can’t remember who you are. Now, as I understand it, unlike the movies, most cases of amnesia are temporary, and that is the case with this as well, but when he does begin to recognize you as his mother or father, he still has a hard time believing that you love him. In other words, he remembers and believes that he is your son…but does not believe that you love him.
What is it that you try to do? Faced with the prospect of your child not understanding your deep love for him, you immediately start to demonstrate your love with gifts and acts of kindness. Faced with the thought that your child might not know your love, you simply try to tell him in as many different ways as you can of your love.
Now convincing your child of your love is natural – good parents do it all the time whether their child has amnesia or not. But think with me for a moment and let me ask: why are you so hyped to tell your son that you love him? Why are you so energized about this thing?
Well, for one, you do love him and you want him to have the wonderful assurance of parental love. You want him to experience your love. That’s a natural part of being a parent.
But there is another reason that you are anxious for him to know your love. The truth is that as you visit him day after day in the hospital, he’s just not the boy you’ve always known. In other words, your son is acting polite toward you, because, after all, you’ve taught him to be polite…but something is missing. There is a distance there. And you realize intuitively that the connection that you have had with your child through the years is actually formed on the basis of love. Get this: you have a sense, rightly I might add, that if he does not know your love, you will never have the relationship that you have had in the past and that you long to have again.
Let me put this in a slightly different way: you have a sense that if he does not know your love, he will never ever be able to love you in return. Sound familiar? John put it this way: We love because He first loved us 1 John 4:19 (ESV)
And now we are beginning to understand – there is a reason that our Heavenly Father puts it as supreme importance that we know His love. There is a reason that Paul prays for the Ephesians that they might know the height and width and length and depth of Christ’s love, the love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18, 19).
And finally, there is a reason that He gives us His Holy Spirit Who witnesses to our spirits that we are the children of God, and thus…deeply loved:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:15-16 (ESV)
Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 1: Romans 9