What comes to mind if you are asked to recall the song, “I’ll be there for you”? Do you think about The Rembrandts’ theme to the sitcom Friends or Bon Jovi’s power ballad? Both songs describe love in a way that is losing favor in our day. From The Rembrandts: “I’ll be there for you; when the rain starts to pour; I’ll be there for you; like I’ve been there before; I’ll be there for you. From Bon Jovi: “I’ll be there for you; these five words I swear to you; I’ll be there for you; I’d live and I’d die for you; words can’t say what love can do; I’ll be there for you.”
Too often, today’s view of love is “What can you do for me?” or “How do you make me feel?” or “If you love me, you will do this and that for me.” Marriage vows are less often being made “for as long as we both shall live” and increasingly being made “for as long as we both shall love.” Monogamy is even seen as an outdated concept. More and more people believe that since no one person can love them enough to meet all their needs, they avoid the commitment and obligations of marriage.
But how do we want to be loved? Do we want our loved ones to run hot and cold, depending on how we make them feel? Or do we want them to always “be there for us”? Do we want to wonder if we can count on them? Or do we want to know that they are always working toward what is best for us? Honestly, we all long to be the recipient of someone’s undivided, abiding, and unconditional love. Using modern slang, we want to be someone’s bae: before all else.
Always being there for someone requires sacrificing our schedule, our priorities, our interests, and even ourselves so our loved one benefits and flourishes from our sacrifices. But even our best intentions will fall short because of our human limitations of energy, time, ability, and resources. Only God can make and keep the promise to always be there for us. Fortunately, God is willing to make great promises to His people. In Hebrews 13, God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (all ESV). In Matthew 28, Jesus said, “I am with you always.” The New Testament describes agape love as the highest form of unconditional, self-sacrificing love: living and dying for another’s benefit. God has always loved His people in this way, and He always will. John 3 describes a God who so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
And not only does God promise to be with His children and for His children, but He offers these precious promises to people who are currently His enemies. In Romans 5, God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. In Ephesians 2, God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ; by grace we were saved.
Christianity is criticized as a narrow, exclusive religion. But Jesus makes an open invitation to anyone and everyone to come follow Him regardless of what you’ve done in the past or what trouble you find yourself in now. If you long for unconditional and abiding love that will never waver or disappoint you, then accept Jesus’ invitation to come to Him if you are tired and burdened, and He will give you rest (Matthew 11).