I had a fairly significant “God-encounter” yesterday as it seems God has been trying to teach me (Mark) something important lately. Sadly, some of the most profound truths are the ones we are least likely to believe because we have heard them so many times that we are inoculated against their profundity.
So here’s the truth: God loves me. See what I mean? We have all heard it, we have seen it on lapel buttons and on bumpers stickers. We have seen it on faded sunset posters from the 70’s and on cheesy over-produced wall decorations adorning Sunday School rooms. In short, we have all seen it so many times that it rings hollow. I could expound upon this point, but I think you understand my point.
Yesterday started out with a conversation with our guest from the states. (Phil Gosh is here in Africa to sort of check out what God is doing.) So yesterday morning he was encouraging me about God’s love and how important it was to really explore and understand it. Of course I “know” that at one level as almost anyone who believes in God’s mercy to us through Jesus does, but I also know that I fail to really comprehend it most of the time, much less live my life in light of that reality. Truly, most of our negative responses to life would almost disappear if we could have a deep revelation of God’s love for us.
Consider just a few of the sinful ways we can respond to life: jealousy, dissatisfaction, greed, addiction. Can you see how any one of those would be greatly diminished in their power over us if we truly understood how much God loved us and to what great lengths He has gone to restore relationship with us? How much would you care that someone else had a “better deal” in life if you understood at the deepest part of your heart (not just your mind!) how much God loved you?
Ok, so about an hour later I was in a meeting of the teaching team for CPx, which starts in a few weeks. My friend Viktor Fercho, a German friend on staff with me just said as we were starting our meeting: “Do you guys want to hear something amazing? There is not one thing you can do today to make God love you more. He already loves you as much as it is possible to love you.” He went on and expounded. Once again, I have heard that many times so that it’s poignancy was mostly lost on me, but I stopped and realized again that I don’t really believe that with my heart although I would vigorously defend it with my mind and to anyone who tried to challenge that perspective.
Skip ahead another 10 hours and Ceci and I are at an Anglican church in Cape Town for a monthly worship gathering they have in Diep River (Afrikaan spelling). After worship, the Rector invited a fellow Anglican priest up from England. One of the first things he said? He said: “Do you know that there is nothing you can do to make God love you more? God already loves you with His whole heart. Your good or bad performance doesn’t change that at all.” (paraphrase). I then remembered how the days started with Phil and how Viktor had reminded us of that truth in our teaching team meeting and realized….God is trying to remind me of something important.
I hope that each of you reading this, no matter when that happens to be, realize that God’s love for you isn’t even remotely dependent upon your performance. It isn’t based on how well you are keeping your New Years’ resolutions. It isn’t based on whether or not you do something great for God today or whether you choose to do some horrific evil. His love for you and his provision for your sins can be seen in the “Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world.” God already had worked out a plan for your salvation before you were ever born and before Adam and Eve had ever sinned.* So ask God how he feels about you and read a bit about it in the Scriptures so you can get that truth from your head to your heart. But even if you don’t….God still loves you!
*a bit of supralapsarianism thrown in for you theological types! ; )