Ordinarily, I make a point of trying not to post two blog entries on the same day. However, the Lord has impressed this on my heart, and I feel I ought to write it.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, let me ask you two questions. Answer them with whatever comes first to your mind. It may be helpful to write down your answers.
Does God love you?
Do you love God?
And now, did your answers to those two questions tell you anything about yourself that you didn’t already know?
They certainly did for me. I actually got this exercise from a little book of Christ-centered questions–a combined journal, private Ungame, and compendium of writing prompts. Here’s how I answered:
Does God love me? Well, um, I think so… I mean, the Word says He does… Sometimes, I don’t feel it–don’t feel forgiven, can’t accept His grace. God loves me, because the Bible says so and I trust the Bible–but I don’t know that He always likes me, that He is pleased with me… most of the time.
Do I love God? Yes, yes, yes! Yes! He is my all in all, my everything… He has given me all that I will ever want or need…
Dearly beloved, do you see something grievously, heart-breakingly wrong with this picture?
Besides the fact that I wasn’t accepting God’s grace to begin with, which is horrible enough, what I was initially conveying was that I somehow thought my love was stronger, more emphatic. It isn’t! I was clinging to the Savior, but forgetting that He was still holding me, still loving me like the heavenly Father He is. And whose love is ever greater–the Father’s for His young child, or the child’s? My thinking is both presumptuous and sad if I don’t understand the depth, the riches, of God’s infinite love.
I see this attitude in my daily interactions with others. When I don’t understand the love of my Lord, I tend to wonder if my relationship with Him will be destroyed in one fell swoop. Day by day, I fear that someone or something will separate me from the love of Christ, despite what is written in Romans 8:38-39. It is then that I become almost defiant. On one such occasion, I was asked by a very sincere individual what is important to me. My response: “My faith is most important, and if ANYONE were to take it away from me, I fear I would waste away from grief!” This is what happens when I do not remember that the Lord loves me–and you, beloved brethren–too much to allow that to happen. And, in the light of what Scripture says about God turning no one away, and about no one being able to snatch the sheep from the Good Shepherd’s hand, what I said was really rather silly.
But what happens when I remember His great love? Then, I can answer the question with gentleness: “My faith in Jesus Christ is foremost in my life–I’ve never known such great and infinite love.” I can respond with confidence because I know that our heavenly Father will not forsake one of His children, even if His child sins against Him. It’s a different, beautiful, wholly trusting mindset–and all of us, particularly perfectionists like myself, will find our walk with the Lord much more satisfying if we practice it.
Some Scriptures for your further edification and encouragement: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (I John 3:1). And again, “We love, because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). . What is more, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). What wondrous AGAPE!
Or, feast on this: “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:15). And this: “”Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3). Or, for a vivid picture at this endless love of our infinite God, what about this: “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away. … Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:3-5). Now, would He make those glorious, comforting promises if His love were not far, far beyond what we could ever conceive–great and powerful, filled with grace and mercy?
But really, beloved, what is most important are these words of our Lord Jesus, words that convince us of His love like no others: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. … Truly, I say to you, you will be with Me in paradise. … Woman, behold your son. … Behold your mother. … My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? … I thirst. … Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit. … It is finished.” (Luke 23:34; Luke 23:43; John 19:26, 27; Matthew 27:46; John 19:28; Luke 23:46; John 19:30). I could go into all of these in much greater depth and hope to do so, if the Lord wills, in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Day–particularly “My God, My God” as it applies here–but for the moment, let us just focus on that wondrous, blessed gift. It should have been my sin to bear, but He bore it. What greater love is there than that?
The same questions, new answers:
Does God love me? To the point of cleansing–grace and mercy washing over me. Infinitely, mightily. More than I know, enough to cover a multitude of my sins and errors.
Do I love God? Yes, but falteringly, compared with His HESED. I will grow in love and obedience, but only through Him. He is still my all in all, but His greatness is so much more. Yes, I whisper, I love God.
Addendum: “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”, from the album KING OF LOVE by the Stoneleigh Worship Band.