This love is the infinite eternal unchangeable love of the Father for the Son- equally poured out upon all. Yet, it is also true that some have a great capacity for this love. No matter how much water is poured into a jar, its capacity to receive it is determined by the width of the opening. Pour a massive amount of water into a jar with a small opening, most will simply pour over.
When a mother feeds her little child to take a spoonful, she coaxes, ‘Open up dear. Open up”. In a similar way God invites us to pursue a ‘beloved’ life with God.
‘Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.’
I have one grandson, Daniel, who opens his mouth wide at every meal. He simply shovels food into this mouth- with a kind of reckless relish that is very entertaining. Another grandson, Oscar, is seldom interested in food. His appetite is to play and explore the world. Eating is a necessity not a joy. He takes a bite or two and then wants to head out for adventure. Needless to say, Daniel is bigger than Oscar. He has a ‘wider mouth’.
When it comes to having an appetite for God’s love, some are able to open their mouths wider than others. They have a bigger appetite. It is in this sense that some are called beloved- others not so. God’s love is always and only received by the openness of faith. Thomas Watson wrote, “Faith is the mouth of the soul, whatever feeds it is food.” Faith is measured by our capacity for God and his love. Our emptiness is filled by this love. Our capacity for God’s love increases the more we receive and enjoy his love. The joy of God’s love is the food. Faith is the open mouth. The important question to ask is this: “How do we expand our faith to receive God’s love and enjoy more of this ‘beloved’ life?”One way we seek, receive and grow in this love by thoughtful, meditative conversation with God- that is by prayer.
In prayer we increase the capacity for God’s gift of himself.-Augustine
Prayer is the way we feed our faith.The chief work of the Spirit is faith. The chief exercise of faith is prayer. – Calvin.
Second, if we want to increase in the joy of God’s love we will pursue a life of holiness. If faith
increases our capacity for God, a life of faith will deepen into a life of holiness. Jesus says this in simple terms:“Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love.” John 15 Holiness is the work of God’s Spirit within us. Growth in holiness is the immediate response of those who are growing in the love of Christ.
Holiness is not a merit by which we can attain communion with God, but a gift of Christ which enables us to cling to him, and to follow him. -Calvin
If we want to pursue the ‘beloved life’ we must pursue holiness. Holiness begins when we empty our inner being to make room for God’s gift of himself. Self reliance and self indulgence are the twin appetites which feed on the world and reduce our faith. By filling our lives with useless passions and practices these vices we stuff our souls and choke off the opening of our heart to God. Repentance is emptying and purging our inner beings of self reliance and self indulgence in order to make room for God’s love.
Holiness is a profound openness to God. The positive side of holiness is nothing other than beholding Christ and bathing in his love. We increase this ‘holy openness’ by praying for more knowledge and experience of Christ’s love. In this understanding of holiness, we understand the profound prayer of Paul:
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19
By John Smed