An Impartation of Love
Of course, it takes God to love God. But God the Father is pleased to impart His love into the heart of the redeemed. In His final high priestly prayer, Jesus said, in essence, "Father, put the same love with which You love Me, in them!" (see John 17:26). I believe the Father must have answered Him, "Son, You can be sure that I will impart to them the same fiery love I have for You. It will be done."
Amazingly, we are the designated beneficiaries of that prayer! God wants to give each of us an impartation of His divine love. He wants to induct us into the "fellowship of the burning heart."
The three Persons of the Trinity have burning hearts of love for one another. It is almost beyond comprehension that God beckons each of us—along with the redeemed throughout human history—into this fellowship.
The experience of holy affection brings us to the highest, most exhilarating heights known in the created order. Oh, the glory of possessing fiery affections!
The capacity to feel deeply and love passionately is truly one of the great expressions of being created in God's image. Of course, this capacity can be dangerous and destructive if not stewarded properly. But the capacity to burn with deep desire in the heart is what separates us from the rest of creation.
God wants His people, by His grace, to emerge as voluntary lovers of God. The bride of Christ is the crowning glory of His creation—far below the transcendent God in glory, yet exalted beyond the angelic host in intimacy with Jesus. And though our bridal position is the highest in all created order, it is never to be confused with being equal to God. Cult groups blur this vital distinction.
The Father has ordained that His Son have an eternal partner who is equally yoked to Him in love. This is possible only because it is God's own love that is given to us for Jesus.
Lovers, Not Workers
Grasping our identity—that of voluntary lovers who will live forever cherished by Jesus as His bride—will change our whole approach to ministry and service. We will no longer see ourselves merely as God's messengers or as servants fulfilling an important task. Rather, out of a lovesick heart, we will find ourselves empowered by love to do the work of the kingdom.
This will be the characteristic of the martyrs at the end of the age: Lost in love, they won't care what they are called to do; they'll just want to do it with Him! They will want to love and obey Him whether in this age or in the age to come, whether in heaven or on earth. Their hearts will be reaching for that primary reward: to live overflowing in the experience of the love of God—to experience love from Him, to love back and to love others with the overflow.
This is the key to unity in the church, and it will be the key to bringing in the great harvest. Ultimately, the Great Commission will be fulfilled by people lovesick for God and thus overflowing with compassion for other people.
Lovers are always more effective than mere workers. Workers have limits to which they will go for the one they serve; lovers don't. My brother broke his neck at a high school football game 25 years ago. He's been totally paralyzed ever since, and I've been in and out of different institutions with him during the years.
One marvelous thing I've seen, every now and then, is a nurse who falls in love with her patient. At that point, she becomes a lover and not just a worker. She delights to go above and beyond the call of duty.
When workers become lovers, they throw away the obligatory checklist. They no longer need it. Their lovesick hearts provide a higher and more trustworthy rule to live and work by. When that happens between us and our heavenly Bridegroom, there will be no self-congratulation or religious self-determination in our efforts to serve Him—only an overflow of love.
When we extravagantly obey God out of a fascinated, exhilarated heart, we come to the position of the bride in Song of Solomon, who pursues her Bridegroom out of "lovesickness" (see Song 2:5; 5:8). While this love song speaks of the beauty of natural married love, a second and important interpretation reveals the beauty of spiritual love for Jesus. It is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. In the last days God is going to cause the church—despite tribulations and persecutions—to possess a glad, exhilarated heart rooted in lovesickness for her Bridegroom, Jesus.