I’ve been thinking about the love of God now for a number of weeks and the more I meditate on it the more convinced I’ve become that we can’t even begin to fathom such love.
Let’s talk about sin for a moment. Sin has a great many definitions in the Bible but I like the idea that it is “a lack of trust.” After all that is what was going on in the Garden when Eve and her husband fell for the wily moves of Satan. Remember Satan’s words to Eve, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5
Eve decided to stop trusting God and put her trust in her own ability to become like God. When we sin we become separated from God because sin is really saying, “I want to be on my own without you because I really don’t need you.” It is a lack of trust.
So how does God deal with us rebellious and sinful people? He continues to love us in spite of our indifference and even hostility back towards Him. 1 John, as I mentioned in the last post, states God is love. Have you ever wondered what was happening at the cross when we say Jesus died for our sins? Well He didn’t die in order to stop God being angry with us and He didn’t die so that God could pour His wrath out on Him instead of us.
He died because of His love, the Father’s love, and the Spirit’s love for us. They were not willing to give up on us and that, my friends, is amazing love! Like I said, I’ve been thinking about love but I’ve been thinking about how God’s love interrelates with my love for others.
Now I know that I don’t and can’t love as Jesus loved. I’m not dying for my neighbors anytime soon though they are all great people. But when we have opportunities to love in the simple everyday interaction with people, do we bother? Love is in the little things like a smile, a hug, laughter, and a quick note to someone who you miss, or a conversation on the street.
In his book, Did God kill Jesus?, Tony Jones makes a wonderful observation concerning sin. “Behavior isn’t the disease; sin itself is the disease. That is, sin must be thought of as a condition rather than an activity.” p. 243
Did you get that? How we look at sin determines how we look at God. If we think God is a precise judge weighing every word that comes out of our mouth and every thought of the heart in order to catch us up then we will see sin as action. If we understand sin to be a condition of our natures then we will see God differently, especially in light of the cross.
I’m not saying it is all right to go about purposely sinning, but on the other hand we need to understand that we are sinners who sin. And we need to remember God isn’t angry with us because we sin—He hurts. God misses the close connection that He would love to have with us. Take a few minutes to reflect on this text in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” (italics mine)
Isn’t that a dynamic text when we struggle with sin and discouragement? Jesus loves us, and Jesus, the author of love, lives within us. He doesn’t need us to be perfect to dwell within our heart, instead He dwells in us just as I are, living in the flesh.
One of my favorite texts on love is found in the Psalms and it reads like this, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (86:15)
Let’s linger over this text for a moment or two. God is merciful and gracious. Do you believe that is a fair assessment of God? How about the idea that He is slow to anger, do you believe that? So God is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger and that leads us to the question, where do these traits come from? The answer is in the verse itself. “He is, “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” He is abounding, overflowing, reveling, rejoicing and exalting in love for us.
And it is not a fickle love here today and gone tomorrow. No! It is a steadfast love and faithful. These are military terms to a great degree representing the idea of a soldier standing his ground against an enemy assault. He is steadfast and loyal to his cause and will not run in the face of danger. Steadfast love always leads to faithfulness. People don’t run around on their spouses or throw their children out of the house when faithfulness rules their lives. And God is ever faithful to us even when we aren’t faithful to Him.
Please don’t buy into the teaching that God is a harsh, distant, and exacting God demanding payment from you for every sin known and unknown that you may have committed. Instead remember God loves you and wants you to come home just like the prodigal son. Remember his reception when he came staggering home, broken, discouraged and humbled from the trials of life. God ran out and met him and put His best cloak upon him, and sandals on his feet and a ring on his finger.
You know what God was saying? He was saying welcome home I don’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done. I am just glad you’ve come home because I missed you so much and the hole in my heart couldn’t be filled till I held you again. You are my son and I am your father and I love you.