Certainly, one of the most important things that is lacking in our culture is the realization that love, especially between a husband and a wife, is a choice. There is another aspect of love, however, that I want elaborate upon a bit: the actualization of love.
By the actualization of love, I mean its becoming tangible. I’ll give an example. When a husband and wife marry, ideally they are entering into a future relationship that will be, from that point on, based on a commitment to love. The commitment is the foundation on which the love stands; however, it is somewhat of a blind commitment. It is ignorant of the future. The person does not actually know all of the ways in which their commitment to love their spouse will play out. As their marriage plays out, there love is actualized. Their future is being shaped and filtered through their commitment to love. Their love is becoming real and tangible as it plays out in actual situations.
This is also the case when we become children of God. Externally, we are baptized into a tangible covenant with the creator of the universe. Internally, we are regenerated through the Holy Spirit and united with Christ in ways more mysterious than we can understand. We imperfectly learn to love God by keeping his commandments as we travel through a passage of time that was once uncertain to us. Our love for God is being actualized.
God’s love does not need to be actualized. From all eternity, he has known himself perfectly. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been in perfect unity with one another, without a thing to be lacking. The self-love of the Godhead does not need to be actualized. It has always been actual.
Before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5, 11) God knew everything about us that could conceivably be known. The incarnate Christ even suffered as we do, so that he literally felt our pain. His love for us was as tangible before the world was made as it ever will be. God’s love for us does not need to be actualized. It has always been actual.
This should bring deep security to our foundation in the gospel. When Christ atoned for our sins on the cross, he did so with the most complete knowledge of that can be had. Nothing we do surprises him. And, if we are his, nothing can take us away from him. So, rest secure in this peace:
28And we know that for those who love God all things work together hfor good,8 for ithose who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he jforeknew he also kpredestined lto be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be mthe firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also njustified, and those whom he justified he also oglorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? pIf God is for us, who can be9 against us? 32 qHe who did not spare his own Son but rgave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? sIt is God who justifies. 34 tWho is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—uwho is at the right hand of God, vwho indeed is interceding for us.10 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than yconquerors through zhim who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.