Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:7–10 NLT)
Three years ago, the Washington Post ran an article about a white-naped crane named Walnut who was supposedly in love with Chris Crowe, her keeper at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Walnut, an endangered bird raised by humans, was notorious for attempting to kill any potential mates. When Crowe noticed that Walnut had started dancing at him, her way of inviting him to mate, he decided this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. With the survival of the white-naped crane hanging in the balance, Crowe opted to use Walnut’s advances to assist in the artificial insemination of the eggs, something that normally was a stressful process that risked injury to keepers and bird.
Because white-naped cranes mate for life, this relationship between Crowe and Walnut continued beyond egg-laying season, even though Crowe’s flaws as a bird were never far from Walnut’s view. As the Washington Post article puts it, “Despite Crowe’s shortcomings, Walnut loves him unconditionally. In fact, this 12-pound bird’s capacity for boundless affection sets a standard that we all could learn from, Crowe says. ‘The ideal partner doesn’t exist. You have to accept certain things that people can’t change,’ he explains. ‘I mean, she puts up with me even though I can’t dance or sing.’”
Unlike Walnut, who’s suffering from lack of suitable outlets for her affection, God lives in perfect communion with himself and has no need for anyone outside of the Trinity. In Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner writes, “The Trinity is also a way of saying something about God and the way he is within himself, i.e., God does not need the Creation in order to have something to love because within himself love happens. In other words, the love God is is love not as a noun but as a verb.”
The fact that God chooses to love us, despite our flaws and despite the fact he has no need for us, perfectly illustrates how perfect his love truly is. Take some time today to reflect on how God’s love has impacted your life, then figure out some tangible way this Advent season to show the origin and the source of love how much his love for you means.