May 10, 2018 • Life for Leaders
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
When I was in junior high school, the English rock band Led Zeppelin released their second album, which featured the song “Whole Lotta Love.” Soon this song was heard on transistor radios and at school dances everywhere, even though many Christians criticized it for its apparent sexual immorality. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the repetitive chorus ringing in my ears: “Wanna whole lotta love, wanna whole lotta love.”
I doubt that Led Zeppelin was thinking of Ephesians 2:4 when they wrote “Whole Lotta Love.” But, in fact, this title accurately captures a core truth about God’s character and activity. As I noted in yesterday’s reflection, a more literal translation of verse 4 would be: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us…” The word translated as “great” is a common Greek word that means “very many” or “very large.” God’s love, according to verse 4, is gigantic. One could even say that God has a whole, whole, whole lotta love. Not the best lyrics, perhaps, but great theology and great gospel.
Yet God’s love is not of the Led Zeppelin variety. It is neither friendly love, nor romantic love, nor erotic love. The Greek language had words for these kinds of love. Yet Ephesians 2:4 employs the word agape, which is self-giving, sacrificial love. Agape seeks not selfish pleasure but rather whatever is best for the other person. According to Paul, God is filled to the brim with this kind of love for you and for me.
As human beings, we were created with the capacity to love and the desire to be loved. Because of sin, our God-given yearning for love can lead us down all sorts of dead-end roads. We can seek love through promiscuity or popularity. We can be led to believe that we’ll be loved if we are beautiful or successful or wealthy. Yet our search for a “whole lotta love” will never be fulfilled until we turn to the One who loves not only the whole world but also each and every one of us. The good news of Ephesians is that God has a whole, whole, whole lotta love for you.
Something to Think About:
In what ways have you experienced God’s love for you?
In what ways would you like to know God’s love more deeply?
How would your life be different if you really believed that God had great love for you?
Something to Do:
Often, we experience God’s love for us when we love someone else in God’s name. As you think about the people in your life, perhaps in your workplace or neighborhood or school, who needs a “whole lotta love” today? How might you be able to love this person? Ask God for his help with this. Then, pay attention to God’s presence in you as you love.
Gracious God, thank you for the wonderful affirmation of Ephesians 2:4. Thank you for being a God not just of love but of great love. Thank you for loving not only the whole world but me. Thank you for knowing me, cherishing me, seeking the best for me.
Help me, God of love, to live today in the embrace of your love. Help me to share this love with others wherever I am. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Called to Love: The Tricky Part of Love (John 13 Sermon Notes)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.