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Understanding God’s Love – Part III: It Changes Everything

January 17, 2007 Leave a comment

Alright, so we’ve covered our indigent state of helplessness and depravity and noted that God’s love exists despite that, not as something to be worked for or earned, but is simply there. As I’ve submitted repeatedly, this acknowledgement of our own sinful repugnance and understanding that God freely loves despite that, is the starting point of a fuller comprehension of God’s love. When we accept the merciful, grace-filled gift of the love of God in Christ Jesus, everything changes.

First I’ve got to a give a short, inadequate, but necessary explanation on the point of God sending His son, in His great act of love, to die for us. God, who created humanity good, looked upon the people He created and saw that they were killing themselves with sin, their corrupted hearts driving them to engage in behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes that were bringing death to their lives, creating a divide between His people and Himself – the source of life. Because of their sinfulness, which is completely antithetical to God’s nature, He could not be near them, for when sin is in the presence of God, it is engulfed in flames like chaff in a fire. The requisite result of sin is death. Somehow, God needed to make up for our complete lack, so He did. He sent His Son, who, begotten of God, was by nature God, to live a pure and holy life, and after doing so, being perfect, take our sin and it’s consequences upon Himself, through death removing our sin from us forever, through resurrection bringing life where sin once reigned. By doing this for us, God is allowed intimacy with us because our essence has changed. We’re no longer contemptible.

The sinfulness in our hearts has been washed away by the blood of Christ. Sinful Humanity, once innocent, has been redeemed by Jesus, given back their purity. We have been given freedom from condemnation, while the sinfulness in us, that has kept us from God, has been condemned. Where death once reigned, we now reign in life. What was dirty has been cleansed. What was broken has been fixed. What was by nature disgusting is now by nature beautifully enthralling. By trusting in God and allowing Him to have us, the very essence of who we are is pure, righteous, and holy. And, as we let His love in more and more, this unwarranted but desperately necessary love begins to change the way we live.

Now, because of our redemption through the love of God in Christ Jesus, we are not only changed on the inside, but we change on the outside. By the same love, His love, that drove us to allow Jesus to have our lives, forgive our sins, and redeem our souls, we are now tenderly impelled to become the person God has made us. Whole, New, Alive. The Spirit of God infused in our souls provides us what we need to live without the sin we were once stuck with. As we continue to allow God in more and more and work toward complete obedience, the beatific essence in us grows and develops, shining forth from the inside into how we act on the exterior. This magnificent interaction between our love-driven active submission and God’s love-driven active provision enables us to be people who, inside and out, powerfully resemble Jesus Christ – the very image of life, glory, perfection, and love.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power´┐Ż to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19

Understanding God’s Love – Part II: While We Suck

January 17, 2007 Leave a comment

I just read part 1 and I think it kind of sucks. This part probably should have gone along with the first part, because the two are inextricable from one another. They have to be connected in our minds and hearts. Or else, we’ll do one of two things, either becoming pompous knowing God loves us or despising ourselves knowing we’re not worthy of love. Neither of those is very helpful. That said, here goes dos.

So, we know that there’s nothing we’ve done that makes us worthy of love, but still, there’s this strange idea present that we have to become worthy of love to be loved. Humans, and it seems also, American culture, often think that to get A we have to do B. We work to obtain money. We work for reputation. We work for respect. Naturally then, we also should work for love, even God’s love. It’s a sociological philosophy embedded in our culture, not reflective of reality, but difficult to get past.

There’s another reason why we’re so apt to try to work for God’s love… we’re proud little son of a bucks. People want to be able to attribute to themselves whatever good attributes they can. So we refrain from admitting the reality of our hearts, that they are depraved, in order to maintain an ostentatious ruse of righteousness. That way, we can puff ourselves up, call ourselves good people worthy of God’s love, and when our goodness comes into question, advert to how we stand comparatively to the rest of the world. In doing this, we make God’s love for us, about us. And, like most everything else, it’s not.

The veracious reality is that because we suck there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love. Trying to earn God’s love and believing we can only leads to failure, which makes us see ourselves as failures, which leads to more failure, which leads to self-hatred and condemnation. Surprisingly, we must stop trying. When we’re trying to become good enough to be loved by God, we’re keeping ourselves from accepting God’s love. We refuse, for whatever reason, to accept the love he offers. Getting caught up in the desire to and attempt to earn only leads us further and further away from an understanding of the love God has for us, the free love.

Right now, in the middle of my crap, in the middle of your disgusting sin, God loves you and I powerfully, infinitely, perfectly. There’s nothing I can do to acquire more of God’s love. There’s nothing you can do to diminish God’s love for you. Although by it’s very nature sin is contemptible to God, and we are the purveyors of sin, God loves us. So deep does this love run that He sent His son, a part of Himself, to become the ablution, salvation, and expiation for our sins – opening up the room of God’s presence to the entire world. Let go. Acknowledge your sinful heart, end your endeavor to earn God’s love, and let the love that is already waiting for you come into your life. It changes everything.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Understanding God’s Love – Part I: We Suck

January 17, 2007 Leave a comment

I have so many conversations with people, people who desire and love God, who are struggling hard in life because they don’t understand God’s love for them. They are missing key componential comprehensions that enable us to know the love of God. I am one of these people. All too often in my life there have been gaps in my heart’s understanding of God’s love, caused by my debaucherous and pertinacious self, that have left me wanting. The following notes discuss the areas where my misunderstandings have perniciously affected my life.

This is the least enjoyable part of understanding God’s love. People think highly of themselves. Almost always. And when they don’t, they want to, they long to, and they try to do things that allow them to think well of themselves. Our natural inclination is toward hubristic self-confidence. Because of all our ingrained insecurities we desperately want to see ourselves as good people. We think that in spite of the bad things people do, at heart humans are generally pretty decent. It all sounds swell, but it is a gross prevarication.

We’re afraid to admit the truth because the truth is overwhelmingly opprobrious. Humanity is messed up. Our hearts are tainted, dirty, sinful, deplorable. We are so full of selfishness, conceit, and impurity. I am, you are. I don’t deny that there is good in us. I don’t deny that most people desire sublimity. However, the sad reality is that the good in us is contaminated and because of our actions and the motivations of our heart, we deserve the wrath of God. Acknowledging this is difficult on many levels. What if I’m not a genuinely good person? What if my very soul is depraved? Where then is my worth? Who could love me?

The reality is that we are bad people. This, my friends, is step one. We have to admit that our hearts are vitiated. Our very natures are sinful and disgusting. Refrain from expostulation, rationalizing your actions, writing off your failings as mere foibles, and engaging in comparisons. Accept that you don’t deserve love, because you don’t. In doing so, you can begin to understand just how powerful and magnificent the love of God is – seeing through our marring sinfulness and into the core of our being, engraved with His image.

Man is in no danger of taking too much from himself, provided he learns that whatever he wants is to be recovered in God. But he cannot arrogate to himself one particle beyond his due, without losing himself in vain confidence, and, by transferring divine honour to himself, becoming guilty of the greatest impiety. – John Calvin Institutes… 2.II.10

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