The Love of God

15 07 2014

A lot of times, we get hung up on the idea of “love” when we talk about God.  And the way that I’ve ever heard it preached about, sung about or talked about, has notions of fidelity, and ideas of faithfulness.  It has the idea of human love being perfected, better than we understand it.  My idea of love, I honestly can say, it is a little warped.  I love someone until the very moment that they do something wrong against me, and then after that, it’s a little difficult for me to continue loving them and to offer them unconditional forgiveness.  So, in that definition, the love of God loves me unconditionally, automatically, when I do something wrong.  And while yes, this is an accurate definition, such a definition of God’s love is not enough, it does not define the love that God has for us.  Yes, God’s love is without definition, and reaches further than we understand or can comprehend, absolutely.  Yes, he casts our sins as far as the east is from the west.  Absolutely.  I’m not disputing that.  

I think there’s more.  I really do.  I think there’s more to the definition of God’s love than just “more” or “further” than human love.  God loves us.  This part is indisputable.  The sacrifice of his son on the cross of Calvary alone is signal of God’s love for us, because it is through this death, that he is able to make a home in us and live in us.  Human love tells me that I have to earn trust.  Human love tells me that I have to prove myself.  Human love tells me that if I do wrong, then things are withheld from me.  God’s love is very different.  I have to learn to trust him, I have to learn to accept his forgiveness and move on.  

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

                                                            -Romans 8:35-39

So, anything in this life that we experience, cannot separate us from the Love of God, correct?  But let’s look at this list that precedes that great statement….trouble….hardship….persecution….sufferings?  That’s not a nice list. Keep going, demons…angels….the present or the future???  These are pretty scary things to think about.  So many times, we marvel at the fidelity and faithfulness of God, but Paul, the one who was writing these inspirational words…he went through all of this!  How horrible, and Paul was convinced that he couldn’t get away from the Love of God.

Let’s take it one step further…if God loves us, why and how do bad things happen to those he loves?  This is a question that is constantly asked, Christians are constantly forced to defend the nature of God’s love.  The problem with that question is that those who ask it, are assuming that the love of God is human in nature.  They’re assuming that with the word “love” that his people are exempt from a hard life.  This is not the case.  Not the case at all.  God’s love is on a different playing field here.  Yes, God loves us.  Yes he died for us.  But the thing is, the purpose of God is not to love us, and in loving us, just make our lives easy-peasy.  The thing that God desires for us is not to have an easy life, but to make us holy.  

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”                  -Romans 5:3-4

 

Sufferings come for the purpose of making us holy.  He goes right to work and puts us through situations, not to test our faith, but to purify our faith, to purify our hearts.  When you’re going through those sufferings, those trials of faith, take those not as a signal that you’ve done wrong, or are a bad person, but take that signal as a sign of God’s love for you!  How exciting!  

Yes, it is hard.  Yes it hurts.  I can’t take away the pain.  I truly can’t.  I can’t take away the sting of death as a loved one is being lowered into the ground.  I can’t take away the hurt of rejection as a person walks away or out of your life.  I can’t heal the brokenness when suddenly, you find yourself without a job.  I can’t ease the difficulty and the cost it takes on you, when the health scare comes.  I can’t comfort you, when the thing that you want most in your life, is contrary to what God wants.  Elisabeth Elliot says the following:

Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering.  The love of God is of a different nature altogether.  It does not hate tragedy.  It never denies reality.  It stands in the very teeth of suffering.  The love of God did not protect his own Son.  That was the proof of his love–that he gave that Son, that he let him to go Calvary’s cross, though “legions of angels” might have rescued him.  He will not necessarily protect us-not from anything it takes to make us like his son.  A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.

If it were easy, if the Christian walk with God, a process of continually being purified were easy…then everyone would be a Christian.  When you became a believer, a disciple, you did not sign up for an easy life, you signed up for a holy life, a life that would have its reward of a sure hope to be in heaven one day.  But the cost for that home?  It’s more expensive than anything else you have to sell.  

I included that song above for the following lyrics:

Joy and sorrow are this ocean
And in their every ebb and flow
Now, the Lord a door has opened
That all hell could never close

Here I’m tested and made worthy
Tossed about but lifted up
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

Suffering hurts.  It’s the place where joy and sorrow meet.  Joy over the fact that God is making us and changing us, but sorrow over the events that have happened.  Joy over the fact that God is telling me to focus on him, but sorrow over a broken relationship, if you’re looking from my perspective.  

I don’t know if this makes any sense.  I hope it comforts you and helps you realize the purpose of sufferings and trials.  

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