Lately I have been battling the idea of unconditional love in my mind. Its obviously been something that has been stirring inside of me for some time but it’s suddenly consuming my thoughts. What is this love that is so pure? So perfect and how can we come to understand the depth of this? John 13:34 Christ calls us to “love others like He loves” This isn’t an easy task. I always think of when He was literally being hung upon the cross, He cried out to God to intercede on behalf of His own murderers for forgiveness. How can a love like that be explained, or captured, and now we are suppose to love to that extent? I think because His version of love is so great, it is hard for us to relate. This is quite a tall order considering He loves us perfectly. So to try and understand how deep we sincerely need to love, God opened my heart to the story of Hosea.
Hosea was told by God to marry a woman who he knew in advance would be unfaithful to him. He knew that he was called to love a woman who didn’t deserve his love. He had to love, without condition, a woman that would hurt him to no avail.
See here’s what I have found from this story. You can’t have an unconditional love, that has conditions. Love can be messy. But does God call us to love when its convenient? Does God call us to love when we are happy or in a good place or getting along? Is that the way He loves us? Absolutely not. God uses this example of Hosea to say, GO, Go find your prostitute of a wife and love her. Do you think this pursuit for Hosea was easy? It was filled with pain, with wonder. He was a man of God, what was he doing pursing this known whore? Wondering the streets in neighborhoods he had no place being, searching for a used woman. This woman who had disgraced his name with shame. We think because he is a man of God he should let her go, to let her continue in her evil selfish ways, yet God said because He is a man of God, to go, go find and rescue his wife. To take her back in his arms as his promised bride.
He didn’t even know if Gomer would take him back. He wasn’t good enough for her before, why would she love him now again? But did it matter? No. We love because we are called to love. Not because its easy. Not because we are told we wont ever get hurt in the process. Not because it will always be accepted. We love relentlessly because we are called to love like Christ and that’s what He does.
So now he comes to the marketplace to find that his wife is there. She is his. They made a commitment. Yet he couldn’t just walk up and take her. She wasn’t free to be his. She was in chains. She had to be bought at a price in the sex slave industry. Imagine, a man of God approaching this auction, standing up saying “She is mine, I want her” Gomer at this point is used up, dirty according to the ways she has lived her life in this world yet Hosea digs deep and says “how much?” Do you honestly think Hosea was so overcome with feeling for his wife that he ran to her? To be honest, I don’t know. I would assume that it wasn’t an emotion but a choice. Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a decision, a daily choice to love that person, no matter what condition, no matter how we feel.
I try to put myself in Gomers shoes. How did she feel. How did it feel to know that a man you had abandoned came back for you, not because she owed him anything, not because he was angry, but because HE LOVED HER, despite of her sins. I imagine the tears rolling down her face knowing she was forgiven. Her heart racing thinking “this man loves me enough that even though I have betrayed him, he is here, paying for the something that is already his, to show me love and forgiveness” she probably ran to him and appreciated all he did. Respected him as a godly man and served him as a wife for the rest of her days, I know that’s what I would do if shown this ultimate act of forgiveness. His kindness and compassion has won her back over as the story evolves into the ultimate romance, fairy tale, if you may.
In spite of her sins, in spite of her doings, in spite of her running away. He loves her. He buys back what is already his.
750 years after Hosea pursued and won back his wife, Christ reveals His love story to us. We, like Gomer, were his. We ran away, he pursued. We pushed, he pulled. We left, we became criminals, we entered into a sinful life. Yet He came looking for us. He searched our hearts. He broke down walls, He lowered himself to mere mortality. He took the emotional and physical beatings. He hung on a cross, and He died. He bought us back. Our Hosea has come. Our salvation has come. As Hosea searched for his wife, Jesus came searching for the salvation of humanity. Like Gomer we were in chains, naked, sinful and our gracious God simply asked “How much?” Then paid the price for what is rightfully His. This is how we are suppose to love. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34. It’s a commandment from God, which to me, means not to be taken lightly. Love like Hosea loved Gomer. Love like Christ loves us.