The Love Of God

Sometimes I take God’s love for granted. Then I run across someone who doesn’t believe God is love. Frankly, I was unprepared to read some of the nasty, snide things some people say about God, all the while claiming that they don’t think He exists. I don’t really understand why someone would slander Someone they consider to be an imaginary figure. I mean, do we make disparaging remarks about Bigfoot or the Easter Bunny?

But that’s beside the point. Their clear disdain, even hatred, for God has made me think all the more about His love. The bottom line is quite clear: if God didn’t love us, we would not be here. Why should He tolerate, let alone adopt, a bunch of wayward, selfish, prideful people who spend more time watching TV than talking to Him?

But adopt us, He did. Those of us who walk according to the Spirit, Paul says, who are being led by the Spirit of God, we are sons of God. We were not given a spirit of slavery leading to fear, but a spirit of adoption, by which we cry Abba, Father. (See Romans 8.)

I mean, it’s one thing to say that God saved us. He could have rescued us so that we could be His servants. That would be cool. I mean, I was a fan of the BBC show, Downton Abbey. I saw how the downstairs servants took pride in their jobs. Not all of them, but for the most part, they were happy to be working, happy to have their position, happy to have a place to stay and regular meals to eat. Imagine if the master of the house said that instead of having them as servants, he planned to adopt them as his heirs!

Well, that’s what God has done for us. And the amazing thing—there is no limit to the number of adoptees He will bring into His family. He hasn’t said, only people with a certain IQ or only those who are tall enough or who work out regularly or do a set list of “spiritual” things. He hasn’t said, only blue collar workers or only people in the Southern Hemisphere or only people who resemble Jesus with his dark skin and rough carpenter hands. No. He loves us all. He welcomes us all.

In fact, Christians are the most diverse group of people on the planet. But again I digress (see how easy it is to get sidetracked from God?)

The thing about God’s love that most people miss is that He waits patiently for us. When He sent the prophet Jonah to Nineveh to announce their coming judgment, He was first patient with Jonah. The guy willfully ran from God. He didn’t want God to extend mercy to the Assyrians, and he knew that was likely what God would do. Why? Because that was true to God’s character.

God did exactly what Jonah feared: “When God saw that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented from their calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).

Thing was, God first extended His mercy to Jonah. He was merciful to send a storm and a fish to swallow him instead of taking off his head. He was merciful to give Jonah another chance to obey. And when Jonah pouted about God’s extending mercy to the Assyrians, He graciously taught Jonah what was right. Some prophet of God, that guy. But God loved him.

And He loved the Assyrians. They were a violent nation and so wicked He determined to bring judgment upon them. Until they repented, fasted, and prayed.

God extends His love to the whole world—no exceptions. He isn’t filtering out bank robbers or gossips or womanizers—at least if they do what the Assyrians did and turn from their wicked way.

The turning, the repenting, is just a way of accepting God’s love.

I know it’s harder for people today to understand this because in general parents and children don’t have the same relationship they once did. Once, parents would say, Don’t play with matches, and if you disobey me again, I’ll have to spank you. A time out is better than what most parents do today. But again I digress. Parents never took matches away from kids because the parents wanted to bully their kids or to be mean to them or to keep them from what would make them happy. They’d stop them from playing with matches to keep them safe.

God is like THAT. His love is greater than any desire to be liked, as if we could vote God as Person of the Year if only He’d let us have what we want. God’s love means that He makes the tough calls. God’s omniscience means He understands far better than we ever could, what the outcome of actions will be. So His love and His wisdom and knowledge mean there are times when He has to tell His kids, No. We’re asking for matches to play with, or chocolate for breakfast. He loves us too much to give us something so dangerous or unhealthy.

On top of that God loves us so much, He cares more about out spiritual lives than our temporal lives. After all, these bodies are tents. They only house the part of us that is everlasting, and it is the everlasting that is most important. God doesn’t ignore our lives here and now. He loves us that much. He will provide for us, better than for the lilies of the field or the sparrows. But what He wants above all, is for us to become like His Son.

I feel like I’m just getting started talking about God’s love, but this article is long enough. Suffice it to say, I could write all my blog posts about the love of God without coming to an end of it. Oh, I would likely come to an end of my knowledge about His love, but there are so many people like Jonah, like the Assyrians that illustrate God’s patience, which is really just an aspect of His love. It’s an inexhaustible subject.

Published in: on March 2, 2018 at 5:42 pm  Comments (5)  
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Who Wants To Be A Slave

Human trafficking is a blight on society, and no period in American history is more reprehensible than the years of legalized slavery before the Civil War. But the Bible records a thing called bond-slavery, which turns out to be a sort of voluntary slavery for life.

There were various reasons a person in the Old Testament times might choose to be a bond-slave, but the significant thing is, this is the term the New Testament writers frequently use in connection with the Christian.

Peter, for example, says, “Act as free men, but do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-slaves of God. (1 Peter 2:16)

Christ, of course, said we are no longer servants but sons, heirs of the kingdom. And yet, apparently we are to use our freedom–our release from the bondage of the Law–for God in a way that serves Him as opposed to serving ourselves.

One of the things that sets Christians apart from those involved in other religions is this unique relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ. He adopts us as sons and we are to act like bond-slaves. He gives us an inheritance and we show Him love with our obedience.

Who signs up for this? Don’t sons get to revel in their kingly father’s wealth and power and prestige?

The thing is, being a bond-slave to someone who has your best interest at heart is not burdensome.

Still, it rubs the independent-minded, free-spirited American the wrong way to say, become a Christian so you can be God’s slave for life.

Maybe the metaphor of the cross is easier. You know, take up your cross and follow me. Except, the cross was an instrument of death. Other scripture confirms this point. Christians are to die to self, to the world, to sin.

Bond-slave or death. Neither one sounds like something you’d put on the slick media release when you’re trying to get thousands and thousands to sign up for your cause.

But that’s the thing. Christianity isn’t a cause. It’s adoption, with God as the Father who called, chose, brought us into His family. Our response? I’ll be His bond-slave.

Yes, I have all the privileges of a child, but not a spoiled one. One that is growing and maturing in order to be a true reflection of my Father. The only way that can happen here, what with my sin nature, is if I live as a bond-slave.

It’s one of those amazing things that God alone can do–Christians are not burdened by laws; we are freed and forgiven. Yet, now that we don’t have to do anything to be reconciled to God, we want to serve Him in joyful, thankful response.

Published in: on July 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm  Comments (6)  
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