1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
(Ephesians 2:1-5, NIV)
In 1969, the English rock band Led Zeppelin released their second album, which featured the song “Whole Lotta Love.” Soon this song was heard on radios and at school dances everywhere, reaching Gold (one million copies sold) in less than a few months, even though many Christians criticized it for its apparent sexual immorality. If you know the song, you can almost hear the repetitive chorus ringing in your ears: “Wanna whole lotta love, wanna whole lotta love.”
I can say with a great deal of certainty that Led Zeppelin was not thinking of Ephesians 2:4 when they sang “Whole Lotta Love.” But, in fact, this song’s title accurately captures a core truth about God’s character and activity. A more literal translation of verse 4 would be: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us . . . .” The word translated as “great” is a common Greek word that means “very many” or “very large.” God’s love, according to verse 4, is gigantic. One could even say that God has a whole, whole, whole lotta love. Not the best poetry, perhaps, but great theology and great gospel.
But God’s love is not of the Led Zeppelin variety. It is neither friendly love, nor romantic love, nor erotic love. The Greek language had words for these kinds of love. Ephesians 2:4, however, employs the word “agape,” which is self-giving, sacrificial love. Agape seeks, not selfish pleasure or the joys of friendship, but whatever is best for the other person. According to Paul, God is filled to the brim with this kind of love for you and for me.
As human beings, we were created with the capacity to love and the desire to be loved. Because of sin, our God-given yearning for love can lead us down all sorts of dead-end roads. We can seek love through promiscuity or popularity. We can be led to believe that we’ll be loved if we are beautiful or successful or wealthy. But our search for a “whole lotta love” will never be fulfilled until we turn to the One who loves, not only the whole world, but also each and every one of us. The good news of Ephesians is that God has a whole, whole, whole lotta love for you.
Think of all the ways you have experienced God’s love for you. In what ways would you like to know God’s love more deeply?
How would your life be different if you really believed and acted on the great love God has for you?