One of our cultural norms in western culture is reciprocity. Reciprocity can be defined as a social understanding that a person should repay, in kind, what another person has provided for him or her. In other words, a person can expect you to give back (reciprocate) the kind of treatment you have received from him or her. A common example is eating out with a friend; if I pay for the bill this time, an unspoken agreement is implied that you would pay for the bill next time.
Reciprocity is pervasive in our world and it makes a lot of sense. Trade agreements are made between nations so that both parties can benefit. Marriages depend on a give and take relationship, often times based on the concept of reciprocity. If you allow me to do this (watch a football game), I will allow you to do that (go on a scrapbooking weekend). It is so enmeshed in our thinking and psyche; it can be very difficult to consider a relationship that does not include some form of reciprocity.
And then, over two thousand years ago, God came to earth in the form of Jesus and introduced a totally different relationship. In this relationship, God loves us first. In this relationship, God loves us in spite of our behavior. In this relationship, God desires us to be fully ourselves. In this relationship, God forgives us, again and again.
In the book of Hosea, God’s love for us is presented as a “living drama.” He asks Hosea to marry an adulterous woman and, after she leaves him, God tells him to go retrieve her from prostitution. Hosea pursuing his wife is how God pursues us. God wants an intimate relationship with us and wants us to come to him with our vulnerabilities. God’s love is unconditional, unmerited, impartial and eternal and it saves us. God’s love is so RADICAL and goes to such ridiculous lengths it makes him look FOOLISH in saving such unworthy people. – Bill Ernstrom, Director of Operations