For many of us, the words have lost their meaning; God loves you. We have heard it so many times. It’s on every other church’s billboard. The weird lady around the corner won’t stop telling you, not to mention your great-aunt. Okay, okay, my great-aunt.
But, stop for a second. If you can calm your busy soul and relax your mind a bit, you might be able to look at those words differently. Let all preconceptions about what that statement could mean melt away. Try to forget the annoying guy with the “God Loves You” sign outside the mall. Forget for now, the Christians you have known who have told you that God loves you, but showed no signs that they themselves cared at all.
Look at it for what it is, a simple three-word statement. God loves you. The magnitude of that statement cannot be overstated, if it’s true. The Bible says that God’s love surpasses all knowledge. It is indescribable, beyond measure, incomprehensible, and the best part; it won’t change. It doesn’t matter what you have done, or left undone, It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do tomorrow. You can’t make God not love you. Unfailing seems to be the adjective most used to describe God’s love for us. Love without fail.
I have a pretty good idea what runs through our minds at this point. But, what about that time I said those mean things to my friend, or that time I took advantage of my boss’s trust in me, or that time I didn’t help that poor girl on the highway? What about my constant angry thoughts, or my jealous heart, or my lustful eye? How could a perfectly Holy God still love me? Often, we have such a hard time forgiving ourselves, that it becomes impossible to believe that God could possibly love us.
There’s this guy in the Bible named Jesus. I mentioned him once or twice. He told a story to the people of his time to illustrate God’s love for us. It is the story of the “lost” or “prodigal” son. It’s a lengthy passage so I will paraphrase:
A rich man had two sons and the younger couldn’t wait to get his hands on his inheritance. He coldly asked his father for his share of the estate. For reasons known only to the father, he gave the ungrateful son what he asked for. The spoiled young man then left his father and brother and went and completely squandered the fortune “on wild living”. Poor and starving for the first time in his life, and realizing what a fool he had been, he tucked his tail between his legs and returned home to the family he had spurned, just hoping his father might give him a job. When he arrived though, his father was overjoyed and he welcomed his boy home with open arms, and he staged a great celebration. The older brother was mad as could be and would not join the party so the Father went to explain to his older son why they had to celebrate… “because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.”
With respect for the older generation at all-time lows, it might not surprise us to hear of this type of disrespectfulness in today’s world, but in first-century Roman-occupied Israel, this wasn’t done, and Jesus’ audience would not have overlooked the immensity of the offense. The sins of the son couldn’t be worse in their eyes, so the unbelievable mercy and forgiveness of the Father would have jumped out at them. If God could forgive that….
The religious teachers of that place and time were telling the people of a harsh and stern God that was eager to judge and condemn. But, from Jesus they were hearing of a Father God who loved them so much that he would forgive anything if they would just turn to him, and trust him.
We should not overlook the image of God as the Father. Even an earthly father can forgive his selfish, disrespectful child, so how can we think our sins could keep The Father from loving us, his children.
We are humans in what can feel like a finite world. We have only seen so much goodness, only so much mercy, only so much love. So the god we try to imagine is only so good, only so merciful, and only has so much love to give. The God of the Bible has a capital G. He is not weak in any way. Let’s stop trying to limit a limitless God. If there is a God capable of creating everything, then obviously he has limitless power. So, why should we try to put limits on this God’s love, or forgiveness, or mercy.
For his children, the inventor of love feels “a love that surpasses all knowledge” and it is unfailing, endless.
No doubt, Christians can be weird when trying to tell people of God’s love, though their hearts are often in the right place. But, I hope you can look at the words a little differently now. Because, if you believe it, the knowledge that “God Loves You” beyond all you can fathom will change everything, and it can get you through anything.
This is awesome news, if true. God loves us and wants to forgive all, but there is one giant attribute of God that needs to be satisfied, his Justice. Though he loves us beyond measure, his Justice demands a price for sin, all sin. So, God himself is seemingly at a crossroads. He is the righteous judge of all mankind, and as our Creator, that is his right. But, he is also that Father waiting on the porch for his wayward child to come home. Almighty God has a dilemma.
Stay tuned. It gets even better. A.J.