Without a doubt the biggest lie we tell ourselves spiritually is that if we change God will love us. The reason for this lie is that we project onto God what we feel about ourselves. We know the sinfulness of our thoughts, the poor motives for our actions, the indifference to things that are important to God and how much we fail God and ourselves. We know that if we were treated as we treat God, how disappointed we would be in our spouse, children, and friends and in ourselves. We, therefore, believe that disappointment and displeasure best describe God’s thoughts towards us.
But all those self-loathing’s and feelings of defeat and disappointment we imagine God has for us are simply not true. We are loved unconditionally. 1 John 4:16 reminds us, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
Have you and I really come to “know and to believe the love that God has for us?” Or are we still wrapped up in some vague idea that we have to perform a certain prescribed way for God to change His mind about us and go from hating us to loving us. Do you know how many people, even Christians, believe God hates and loathes them?
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 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 4:9-10 Does this sound like a God that has to be appeased or is out to get us? Does this verse make you think of God sitting in Heaven pouring over books looking for every little forgotten sin or mistake in your life so He can strike you off His saved list?
Our relationship, praise God, is not based upon our good intentions, performance, or attempts to be good. It is based upon His unconditional love for us. In Romans 5:8 Paul cries out the good news, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In Ephesians 2:4 Paul assures us, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us.”
God is rich in mercy because of His great love “with which He loves us.” Look at Paul’s words, rich and great; these are words that overflow with deep meaning for us. God doesn’t just have mercy for us but He has rich mercy or endless resources of mercy to pour out on us. His love isn’t just love but is a great love, large, gigantic and all encompassing and all that love is directed to us.
I just have to share with you one of my favorite verses, “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Recently some friends of mine have started me thinking about the crucifixion and how it ties into these verses and others concerning God’s unconditional love for us. I’ve been reading and studying and have had to change some of my preconceived ideas about why God died for us.
This post isn’t the place to go into all the things that I’m having to relearn, rethink, or change my views on, but I’m sure they will be the topic of many future posts when I feel confident enough to talk about them. For now let it suffice to say that Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross was all about absolute love for you. He died for us because He simply couldn’t live without us. At the cross the great hold that Satan had over this earth was broken and we entered into the Kingdom of God and were set free from the bondage of sin, death and Satan.
The cross is not about appeasing an angry God or Jesus having to carry our sins in order to turn God’s wrath away from us and place it upon Himself. It is about a plan of salvation where God in triune love and compassion chose to pour love out to us through personal sacrifice so we could have life again. At the cross Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit cried out to a fallen world, we love you and want you back. Love motivated the cross.
So, why am I writing all this? Yesterday, I read an article by a pastor in which he claimed that the idea of judgment made him draw closer to God because he understood how much of a failure he is in God’s sight and his own sight. The gist of what he was saying was that as he reflects upon his sins being brought up before God and scrutinized for every little failure, his only hope is to rely more fully upon Jesus for redemption.
At face value it is true we are drawn to Jesus when we understand our own fallen condition, but what is the motive for loving Jesus is the question? Many Christians over the years believed that they would go to hell is they didn’t follow Jesus but is that really an adequate view of God or motive to follow Him? The gentleman who wrote the paper I was referring to was sincere and longed to please Jesus, but is the fear of judgment really a motivating factor to accept Jesus into our life? I John 4:18 seems to say it isn’t, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
Let’s reflect back to how I started this post—talking about the love of God. Do you believe you are loved unconditionally and do you believe God loves you as you are because as Brennan Manning says, “you will never be as you should be?” Now do you believe the cross event was the ultimate gift of love that could ever be poured out to us by God?
Galatians 2:20 reads, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 1 Corinthians 13:8 states, “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” Do you believe these two verses are true and meant for you?
Before you write me reminding me that if we love God we will keep His commandments (John 14:15), remember what His commands are. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:24
I’ll be honest with you, when I take my morning walk along the shoreline and look out over the islands in the bay while deer chew away on grass along the roadway I am overwhelmed with the idea that the God who created all this beauty loves me unconditionally. He loves me simply because I exist.