We tend to define love unilaterally: it is other-oriented, self-sacrificing, giving…
Our Shepherd is defined in scripture as love itself. He is certainly other-oriented, self-sacrificing, and giving. But I don’t believe those qualities fully describe the nature of love.
God is a relational being, and long before he created anything else, he not only gave love within the Trinity, he received it as well. Complete mutuality. Total with-ness.
Love can be extended without being reciprocated, but it will not then be satisfied. The kind of love that God has drawn us into – the kind of love that our Shepherd extends to us – is a mutuality that requires with-ness. In other words, partnership.
We are not just co-laborers with Christ, we are co-lovers. We are partners in the gospel, partners in shepherding, partners in love. When we love one another, we join the Shepherd in his love.