George Wald was intrigued by sight. In 1967 he shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for his research on how the eye sees and passes visual images to the brain. He taught at Harvard University and was the Higgins Professor of Biology Emeritus when he died at the age of 90. When speaking of his Nobel Prize he once made this statement: “What one really needs is not the Nobel prize, but love. How do you think one gets to be a Nobel Prize winner? Wanting love, that’s how. Wanting it so bad one works all the time. He works and works and ends up as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s a consolation prize. What matters is love.”
It should not surprise us that someone who studied sight could see so clearly. What we want is love. We just don’t know how to find it. The message we receive from birth is that love is conditional. We find it through a variety of ways: performance will get you noticed on the job, personality will get you accepted by the group, and appearance will get you chosen over others.
You may have felt the frailty of the world’s love. You are loved for your looks until you begin to wrinkle. You are loved for your mind until it slows. You are loved for your bank account until the stock market crashes.
It’s conditional. But God’s love is not. It is agape. Most scholars believe the word agape was a Christian invention. They needed a new word for a new kind of love. Simply put, God loves us because he chooses to love us.
- Not because we have it all together. “. . . but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
- Not because we were the biggest or best. “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples . . .” (Deuteronomy 7:7).
- And not because we loved him first. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
You and I did nothing to merit God’s love. But God loves us because that’s what he is. He is love. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
And his love transforms us. You will give the kind of love you have received. Receive a conditional love and you will give a conditional love. Receive an unconditional love and you will learn to give an unconditional love. Not perfectly. At least not on this side of heaven. But you can learn to give a love that is unlike the love the world gives.
You see, George Wald was correct. What we want is love. What matters is love. And you can stop working for it. Just receive it. God is love.