The Creative Love of God

“Human love, Martin Luther claims, is reactive: it responds to something intrinsically attractive in an object, which consequently draws it out. In other words, human love is attracted to what it first finds lovely. When a husband recalls the moment he fell in love with his wife, he remembers that he saw something intrinsically attractive within her – perhaps her physical beauty or her charming personality – and his heart was moved to love her. There was something in the object of his love that existed prior to his love and drew him toward her. This is the basic dynamic of human love; but we must remember that the revelation of God on the cross inverts such human logic. Thus, divine love, by contrast, is not reactive but creative: God does not find that which is lovely and then move out in love toward it; something is made lovely by the fact that God first sets his love upon it. He does not look at sinful human beings and see among the mass of people some who are intrinsically more righteous or holy than others and thus find himself attracted to them. Rather, the lesson of the cross is that God chooses that which is unlovely and repulsive, unrighteous and with no redeeming quality, and lavishes his saving love in Christ upon it.” (Carl Truman, pages 66-67, Luther on the Christian Life)