There are a lot of things in life that we take for granted right up until they are gone. It’s like we become so familiar with things that we forget how special they are. I’ve been reminded of that lately as it relates to the many opportunities we normally have to gather together as a church family. Easter was especially bittersweet this year because we weren’t able to be together… not really. Technology has been a blessing, but it’s not the same as seeing people’s faces, shaking a hand, or giving and receiving a hug. I’ll appreciate that a lot more when we can finally get back together.
Oddly, though, the same thing happens in our relationship with God. Scripture promises that God will never leave us or forsake us. So, God is never truly gone. However, we get so caught up in the busyness of life or frustrated by the disappointments of life, that we don’t think about God as much, at least not in the way that He’s revealed Himself to be. When that happens, it’s not like God goes away, but He just gets a lot smaller in our mind’s eye. We forget how great He is, and so we diminish the magnitude of His impact in our lives.
So, over the next several weeks, I want to use this blog space to think about the attributes of God . In doing so, I believe the impact of God’s presence and work in our lives will become greater as our vision and understanding of God becomes clearer. We will be reminded of the message we have been taught by one of the songs that we sing:
Age to age He stands, And time is in His hands, Beginning and the end
The Godhead Three in One, Father Spirit Son, The Lion and the Lamb
Name above all names, Worthy of our praise My heart will sing, How great is our God
God Is Love, Isn't He?
In this first installment, I’d like to take a moment to contemplate God’s love. In 1 John 4:7-8, we read, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” The Scriptures couldn’t be clearer, could they? Love is from God and God is love. And yet, many people question whether God really loves them. Perhaps we question that sometimes, ourselves!
Why do people question God’s love?
I suppose there are a lot of reasons people question God's love, although I can think of several right off hand.
Perhaps you were brought up in a home where you were taught that all love is conditional. In fact, you may have experienced heartbreaking rejection from one or both of your parents and conclude that God, if He exists at all, must be the same way. For reasons you don’t fully understand, you believe that He just doesn’t love you.
Perhaps you recognize that you have truly rebelled against God. You won’t sugarcoat it. You have made a lot of sinful choices that you believe have put you out of reach of God’s love.
Perhaps you have experienced God’s good and gracious love in wonderful ways in the past, but now you’re going through a really difficult season. You feel abandoned by God. If God really loves you, why would He let these things happen?
Typically, when we find ourselves questioning God’s love for us in these ways, we are neglecting the single greatest demonstration of God’s love in human history that ought to remove any doubt as to its presence and magnitude, namely, the Cross of Christ. We need to go back to the gospel! There are two things in particular that the gospel teaches us about God’s great love.
God's Love Is Unmerited And Unconditional
In Romans 5:6-10, we read, “6 For while we were still WEAK, at the right time Christ died for the UNGODLY. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still SINNERS, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were ENEMIES we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” I highlighted a few keywords so that you wouldn’t miss it. When God demonstrated His love for you and me as the Cross of Christ, it was when we were weak, ungodly, sinners and enemies of God. We did nothing to merit the greatest demonstration of God’s love at the Cross, and there is nothing we can do to forfeit it! How great is God’s love!
God's Love Is Incomprehensible
Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus was that they would “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). God's love is so great as to be utterly beyond what any human mind can fathom. As such, coming to a full knowledge of His love is an impossible quest, but a quest of infinite value if you will embark upon it.
Consider, for instance, what Christ actually did for you at the Cross. For those of us who have children, we understand what it is like when our child is sick or hurting in some way. If given the choice, we would take that sickness or hurt upon ourselves in a heartbeat in order to alleviate our child’s suffering.
In essence, that is what Jesus did for us at the Cross, even while we were weak, ungodly, sinners and enemies of God. For, in Romans 1:18-20, we are told, “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
On our own merits, we are sinners justly exposed to the wrath of God and without excuse. Yet, at the Cross, we are told that “for our sake he (God the Father) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus is wholly undeserving of God’s wrath, since He is entirely without sin. Yet, Jesus presented Himself as a sin offering on our behalf, taking upon Himself the wrath of God that we deserve. How great is God’s love!
"O Love Of God, How Rich And Pure! How Measureless And Strong!"
So, in this difficult season, if you have found yourself questioning God’s love, let me encourage you to go back to the gospel and consider the greatest demonstration of God’s love. As you do, the greatness of God and the magnitude of His love will come into sharper focus, putting the struggles of this life into their proper perspective. Along those lines, I’ll close with the words of one of my Dad’s favorite hymns, “The Love of God” [Listen Here]. How great is God’s love, indeed!
The love of God is greater far Than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star And reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win; His erring child He reconciled And pardoned from his sin.
Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure—The saints’ and angels’ song.