By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
A fundamental truth of Christianity is that we are loved by God not because we deserve this love, or have earned it, or have a quality inherent within us that in some way requires God to love us. We are just loved. Irrespective of who we are, what we are, what we have (or haven’t done), or what we think of ourselves, or for that matter, what others think of us. God loves us and in this love is true to the very character of the God who is love. (1John 4:7-21) This means that no threshold exists below which God’s love is absent. (Cf. Matt 27:46) We are never alone, bereft of God’s presence and love. If this were not so what we call God’s love would not be love, more like wages paid for due service. (Matt 20:1-16)
This unmerited, unqualified love secures the sovereignty of God. If there were a threshold above which I could secure God’s love, and below which I could lose God’s love, human righteousness (or failure) rivals the sovereignty of God, and God is no longer sovereign. That is, without grace we lose the sovereignty of God. The cross of Jesus is not only evidence of this love but also secures this love in the glory of resurrection.
This might seem provocative to some. The above does not try to balance love and justice in such a way that lets love fail at the cross of human failure. Whatever we do with the just demands of the law, it must not come at the expense of God’s sovereignty secured by unmerited love. Neither, however, is the above a bland conception of God’s love that makes what we do now of little importance, a view that tends to dismiss the just requirements of God’s law. Instead, the trajectory of the theological sketch above is one that takes absolutely seriously the scriptural affirmation of the abandonment of the Son by the Father, a trinitarian question answered in the resurrection of Jesus and his appearances to his disciples.