Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Who Loves Ya Baby?

Last Sunday I was dealing with the reason I believe God loves me. What would you say if you were asked that as a question? Certainly John 3:16 gives us all the answers we need, but what is so simple is also amazingly complex. For this lesson I defined love a little differently than I have in the past, especially since I was talking about being loved. After working through some possibilities from others, I said, "You know you are loved when someone wants what is good for you. The bottom line? Love is honest unselfishness." No one does it better than God.
It seems to me that God's love for us is seen in three somewhat synonymous, mostly overlapping, and yet distinctive characteristic. I know God loves me because I know God's goodness, God's giving, and God's grace. Again, they are inseparable and, depending on what you are looking at, separate as each tell us something different about God's love.
God's goodness is his holiness. He always wants what is best for us, and that means he is good even when good things, from our perspective, don't happen to us. He is interested in our character not our comfort, and the truth is, our faith grows the most during times of trials and suffering. It all depends on our ability to have his spiritual perspective on life. (2 Cor.5:1-10 & James 1:2-4) The most difficult part of understanding God's goodness is understanding how a good God can allow pain and suffering. It's the most often heard argument from those who doubt. I compared God to a parent who lets their child join the basketball team even though there will be mistakes, failures, losses, benchings, and potential injury. How could you do something like that to one you love so much? You know why.
God's giving is part of his goodness, (i.e Jn.3:16) but love is also a matter of what you don't give. Why hasn't God made me rich? He has, it's just a matter of who you want to compare yourself to. Even if it's not what you think it should be, why would God give you something that Jesus said would make it so much harder for you to enter the Kingdom of God? He is interested in our spiritual growth not our material ownership. Sometimes a loving God loves us so much that He has to say no to what we think we need. Hey - remember what he had to say to his only Son when he asked, "Let this cup pass from me."
His grace is his giving from his goodness, but there is nothing like it. Grace is God's love applied to my sinfulness. It is a holy God making a way for an unholy person to be declared holy. We keep wanting to limit it and qualify it, as we seek to judge who gets it and when it's applied, but his grace is greater than our arrogance. All other doctrines rest on it, (see Romans 5:1-5) and it is given in spite of us, not because of us (see Eph.2:1-10). Once we begin to grasp what it is and does for us, it becomes our power to deal with life. (see 2 Cor.12:7-10) Not only is it all we need, it means he dearly loves me.
God is so good!