A Powerful Love

Before I get into sharing on God’s amazing love, I wanted to say that I haven’t forgotten my promise of three more principles to guide us in facing the mountains in our lives. I said last week that I would write on that this week. And then this morning I realized it’s Valentine’s Day AND I have recently been relearning some powerful lessons on God’s love. So I figured I would have to wait to talk on those “mountain principles” till next week. I hope you’ll come back to read those thoughts.

The Power of God

It was spring of 1998 and I was in my final semester  at the local community college. One of my favorite classes was British literature, where the professor loved to chat about deeper themes in writing and in life. I’ll never forget his almost off-handed comment one day as we discussed the role of God amidst humanity. He said, “Well most Christians just think God loves them more than he loves the rest of us.”

I was shocked. That was an indictment I hadn’t seen coming. (Perhaps I should explain that my secular college experience was one of the best spiritual training experiences I’ve ever had, since I was called on every day not only to speak the truth, to a skeptical world, but also live like I believed it. Never before this had I been confronted directly with the objections of our culture and the world to Jesus Christ and the living hope I professed in Him.) I couldn’t let this statement pass, so I raised my hand and said something like, “Well I would call myself a Christian, but I have to disagree with your statement. I have never thought God loves me more. What makes you say that is what we think?”

To this he responded, “Well you all think you’re the only ones getting into heaven, and the rest of us he is sending to hell. That must mean you think He loves you better. But I don’t really get that. I mean if there is a God, I would hope he’d have enough sense to love someone like Einstein better than, say, Billy Graham.”

My shock continued! Categorizing God’s loved based on merit was as beyond the scope of my understanding as our apparent insistence on God’s love providing a way to eternity in heaven was to his. “Well,” I answered, “If what you are saying is true, and God—because I know there is a God—picked whom he loved based on our achievements, I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him, because I’m no Einstein!” (Or Billy Graham for that matter!) “The God I know, loves the world. He tells us so in the Bible. It’s not about what we do. It’s about what He has done.”

My professor had made a classic assumption. He thought that God is like us, only better. He imagined a God made in his image, only superior–like a superhero.  And a God who thinks like humans would love like humans, just with a higher standard of conditions.

But the God of Scripture, the one true God, tells us he is wholly other from us (Isaiah 55:8-13). He tells us his love comes to us while we are yet sinners. (Romans 5:8). He tells us that he loves the world (John 3:16) not just a precious few who catch his notice by their intelligence or contribution to humanity. He tells us that He loves us when we come to Him,  while stubbornly hoping he will fit in our box (Mark 10:21). He tells us he loves us when we are helpless, hopeless, and have nothing to offer Him in return (Luke 15:11-32).   The truth is God’s love exceeds anything we can imagine. It is not just better or superior to human love, it is completely different. 

God’s love is winsome. It is always drawing us to him. It is always working for our good. It is always inviting us to know Him and rely on Him.  The message is not a message of exclusivity, but one of invitation. God, through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, demonstrates His love, and invites us into eternal relationship with Him. And from the moment we believe that message, His love makes us new.

His love comes into our lives, and completely remakes us, so that as 1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love, because he first loved us.” We have a capacity to love—firs to love him back, and second to love others—because of the great love of God spread abroad in our hearts.   Many people think that God is powerful, but his love holds that power in check. That’s a false picture of God. God’s love is God’s power. He is powerful in LOVE. He works miracles because of His love. He brings about redemption because of his love. He  defeated death through the power of His love. The gospel message is a message of power because it is the perfect demonstration of love.

Jesus told his disciples, “A new command I give you, that you love one another. As I have loved you, so love one another!” The new part of that command is the last part. Before this, the command had been, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” But Jesus had a new commandment. Because of Jesus’ love manifest in his sacrifice on our behalf, we now have the capacity to love others with Christ’s love. As he loves, so we get to love! It is not exclusive. It is not capricious. Rather, it is generous, it is winsome, it is liberal, it is constant! And that makes it POWERFUL.

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