Have you ever done a Bible search and study on the theme of God’s love? If you do, one theme that keeps coming up, over and over again, it’s how lopsided, uneven, and overwhelming God’s love is to us. He is faithful, we are not. His love is unconditional, ours is conditional. His love is steady, ours is based on whims and feelings.
What clicked in my mind was an episode of New Girl that my wife and I watched a few days before. It has perhaps one of the absolute best demonstrations of this lopsided love and our response to it when we take notice.
In the episode, 30-something Schmidt comes back to a shared apartment and gives his macho roommate Nick a cookie. Nick takes it with a thanks, but after a bite pauses to ask Schmidt why he got the cookie. “I don’t know, I was just thinking about you,” Schmidt said. This unnerves Nick and prompts him to keep asking questions about the gesture. Through those questions, he discovers that Schmidt is a guy who thinks about his friends a lot and wants to do nice things for them.
Nick has a strong reaction to hearing it. He hates this. He’s bothered by it. He gets angry, tells Schmidt that guys just don’t do this sort of thing, and storms off — then spends the episode trying to reciprocate the favor. In the end, he gives Schmidt a cookie back, thinking that this makes them even. But what Schmidt wants to hear is that Nick loves him back — that he spent time thinking of how to do something nice for his friend.
Nick breaks down during this scene. He realizes that the level of Schmidt’s love and devotion as a friend far outmatches his own. “You love me too much!” Nick shouts through tears. “And you picked the wrong guy!” Nick knows that he abuses Schmidt’s friendship. He knows that there’s not enough good things that he can do to even out all of the good things Schmidt does for him. It makes him finally cry to face overwhelming, unconditional love like that, because it turns a mirror on his own imperfect love.
And this is us. This should be our response when we read this:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
We are not cast in a flattering light in these verses, but it’s hard to deny the truth. When God chose to love us, when he chose to die for us, we were ungoldly, weak, sinners. God didn’t wait for us to become perfect and then love us. He didn’t wait until we did enough good things to even the score. He got into this lopsided relationship fully knowing just how broken we are — and he loved us anyway.