The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”-Genesis 2:15-17
Loving is dangerous. It comes with so much potential for pain because true love must involve real choice. The definition of risk is to “expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.” This sounds a lot like real love.
To avoid all danger, harm, or loss (i.e. risk) God would have had to remove all choice, all chance of people not loving him, and thus erase any scenario of true love taking place. God would have none of this “safe love” because he knows this is an impossibility. Rather than relational safety, God chose love, for he knew he could not have both. Because of his commitment to choose love no matter the consequence, he gave the summons that “You are free . . .” (Genesis 2:16). As his mallet hit like a judge’s final rule in the courtroom, his sentence was made, man was free to choose good or evil, and there was no going back, by his choice, by his love.
With our freedom came not the possibility of our rebellion, but the guarantee of it. God knew that if he was going to have a people to share in his love, he was also going to have a people who chose against it. He places the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden not wondering if we will eat it, but knowing we will, “for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:17). He says “when” not “if” we eat this fruit.
The staggering fact is that God chose to love anyway. He knew how he would be rebelled against, how people would hurt themselves with their free choices to not love God, but he nevertheless went forward with the plan. Risk is only worth taking when the possibility of reward is that much greater. The consequences of rebelling against God cannot be fathomed by the human mind. Eternal punishment is a thought too big and too awful to really grasp. But for God to risk all that pain to himself and to people as some of his creature reap this unthinkable consequence, one is forced to ask the question: How great must his love be?
For God to make us anyway, to risk all that pain so there would be a chance for true eternal love for some of us to enjoy forever, shows that although we cannot comprehend the punishment of being separated from his love, we certainly then will not be able to comprehend how incredible this eternal union with him in love will be, as he truly is the God of love “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
God knew we would eat the fruit, but he made us anyway. God loved anyway. Being made in his image, we too must love anyway if we are to love at all. There is no safe love out there. There is no romance without risk, no relationship without remorse, no true friendships without fears coming true. Choice is essential to true love, therefore danger will always be there too. But like God, we must remember that although pain is really a matter of “when” and not “if,” love really is worth the risk.
We must love anyway.