I just don’t get God’s love!

Posted: 27/06/2011 in God
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Love is such a simple word isn’t it? And yet it is fraught with meaning. Every one of us will have a different understanding of love and for many it will be related only to the love shared between one person and another – husband and wife, friends, children and parents and so on. It is so much more than that though. 1 John 4:8 says that “…God is love…” (italics mine). It doesn’t say God loves a lot, or God has much love or do the right thing and God will love you but God IS love! This love that John is speaking of is not love as the world understands but agape love which is an all-encompassing, unconditional and totally selfless love! It’s love that sees us for who were are and loves us anyway. He loves us with a righteous jealousy in much the same way a husband would be jealous for his wife’s affections to be for him alone and no other man (Ex 34:14, Deut 31:16). What greater hope can there be than hope in God’s perfect love. And what does His perfect love do? Provides salvation and freedom (John 3:16), casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), quiets us (Zeph 3:17), is generous and abundant, unfailing and endures forever (1 John 3:1, Joel 2:13, Ps 13:5, Ps 100:5), is better than life (Ps 63:3) and is wildly beyond our comprehension (Eph 3:17-19). Just imagine knowing a God that loves you that much! Well I have come to realise that we don’t always see knowing God and knowing His love as mutually inclusive. Until recently I thought I had a pretty good understanding and acceptance of God’s love, how wrong I was!

For many of us we know God loves us and we accept it as fact because “that’s what the bible says” but we have never really experienced the fullness of His love. Why is that? I think there are a few reasons.

1)            We don’t understand exactly how God sees sin and what we’ve been saved from.

I’ve mentioned before that my pastor once said that we can’t fully understand the love of God until we understand the wrath of God. God is pure (Hab 1:13) and Holy (Rev 4:8) and as a result cannot tolerate sin, not even a little bit. Sin is disobedience to God and whether there are degrees of sin or not, the consequence is the same; condemnation and death (Rom 6:23). I’m not going to get into the theological argument about whether the law from the Old Testament crosses to the New Testament; I simply believe that the 2 greatest commandments pretty much sum up God’s law. Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them  (Matt 22:27-40). If what we do does not show God love, it is sin. If what we do does not show others love, it is sin. Once we understand that we realise that not one of us are exempt from having sinned. If sin is abhorrent to a Holy God, how much greater must His love be that He would sacrifice Jesus as a once and for all penalty for our sin!

2)            We don’t understand grace.

If we don’t understand the concept of grace how can we truly receive God’s love? “Grace says you have nothing to give, nothing to earn, nothing to pay. You couldn’t if you tried! Salvation is a free gift. You simply lay hold of what Christ has provided. Period. And yet the heretical doctrine of works goes on all around the world and always will. It is effective because the pride of men and women is so strong. We simply have to do something in order to feel right about it. It just doesn’t make good humanistic sense to get something valuable for nothing. (Chuck Swindoll  – The Grace awakening). 

As long as we’re determined to earn God’s love in whatever form that takes, we are not only to a certain degree rejecting His grace, but trying to take the glory from Him and put in on ourselves. I am realising that I’ve seen my failings as far too big for God to forgive, my obstacles too large for Him to move and think that instead I need to carry the load. Suddenly it’s about me and not all that God has done and is doing for me. I’m not talking about striving to be better – I am fully aware that is just not going to make a difference, I’m talking about not accepting what God has done for me; it is pride pure and simple! Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Unless we can come to the foot of the cross and truly understand grace then I don’t think we can even begin to comprehend His love.

3)            We are burdened with condemnation.

We are very good at self-flagellation, getting that metaphorical whip out and beating ourselves until we feel we have earned a little bit of God’s love. I suppose it’s a little like self-mutilation. People that cut themselves do it for many reasons and some do it with the belief that they deserve it. We are deluded into believing that we deserve the pain of self-condemnation and that if we do it enough or often enough then maybe God will realise how sorry we are and forgive us. But Jesus has already paid the debt and the bible very clearly says that “with the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death (Rom 8:1-2). If we believe in Jesus, if we have confessed our sins and repented there is no need for that whip. And we don’t put it away, we toss it out completely.

The greatest struggle then is how to accept these truths in our heart and that is something I don’t yet fully understand. Only Jesus can help us with that because he is the truth (John 14:6). My prayer for myself and for you is that we will realise in our mind and our heart, the true extent of God’s love as much as we are able here on earth, for I think that as we begin understand His love the greater our love for others will be.

This song sums up God’s love beautifully. “He loves me” – David Crowder Band



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