«God proved his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us». Romans 5:8, NCB
TIME MAGAZINE has a section titled «Ten Questions.» It’s a space in which people from different parts of the world ask a renowned person questions. In March 2010, the questions were for Desmond Tutu, the Anglican religious leader who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his fight against racial segregation in South Africa. He was asked a wide variety of questions, from whether he doubted faith to what advice he could give those who were working to rebuild Haiti.
Satu Rahikainen, from Finland, asked him, «What is your favorite verse in the Bible and why?» This was Tutu’s answer: «Romans 5:8: ‘Whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ It sums up the gospel wonderfully. We think we have to impress God so that God could love us. But He says, ‘No, you are loved already, even at your worst.’ »
Yes, «loved already, even at your worst.» Loved by God regardless of what you are or what you have done. Loved by God when you are a rebellious, disobedient sinner. Loved by God when you think you don’t deserve to be loved. That is the gospel message.
When Paul says that «God proved,» he uses the Greek word, synistemi, which entails the idea of «demonstrating,» «certifying,» «giving evidence,» «highlighting.» Our heavenly Father wants to clear up any doubt we might have regarding His love for each of us. His is not only a love in words, but in deeds; a love that was proven, demonstrated, certified, evidenced, and highlighted when Christ died for us.
In Romans 5, Paul says God acted on our behalf when we were weak, wicked, sinners, and fierce enemies of His. However, despite our weakness, wickedness, and sinfulness, irrefutable proof of God’s love was offered on the cross for every human being.
The apostle John resumes the message of Romans 5:8 when he affirms, «This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven» (1 John 4:10, GNT). Tutu said it well: At the cross, God proved He loves you even at your worst. That sums it all up.