Today, we wrap up our three part introduction to welcome you to my Mobilize blog where we have been focusing on the essential truth that God loves you and me. In case you missed Part 1 and Part 2 of Let’s Get Started, head on over to my previous blogs to catch up.
In John 1:12, it states, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
In essence, God whispers to each of us, “I created you and I love you. And I want you to be my child.” God longs for us to be His children and not only that, but God loves us as we are. Yes, God desires that we live better lives. Yes, our sin grieves God, and at times, like a loving parent, He has to let us suffer the consequences of our actions to help us. But no matter what we do, God still loves us. Do you believe that? Do you know it without a doubt?
Too often, we can reduce God and define Him according to human concepts of love. We define His love according to our own limitations to love. The good news, though, is that God is greater than we are. As author and speaker Brennan Manning rightly asserts:
“God loves us unconditionally as we are, not as we should be, because no one is as they should be.” – Brennan Manning
God loves us as we are and so, one of the specific ways we can know if we are grasping the depth of God’s love for us is to ask ourselves whether or not we live with fear. Do you fear that God will reject you? Are you afraid of God?
Now, as I say this, it is important to acknowledge that it is true that we are to fear God but biblical fear doesn’t mean to be scared of God. It means to be in awe of God and have a profound respect for God. It means that we don’t take God for granted or think that He can be played or manipulated into doing what we want.
God is all-powerful, all knowing, ever-present, and, He is all loving. Because of this, we should stand before God in awe, wonder, amazement and with deep respect. But we are not to be afraid that God will reach a limit of His love for us. Having this fear means that we haven’t grasped the love of God as deeply we need to. As it says in 1 John chapter 4:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” – 1 John 4:18
God cannot and will never stop loving us and when we sin against him and don’t live as we should. It is true that our sin grieves God, and at times, like a loving parent, He has to let us suffer the consequences of our actions to help us. Along with this, though, God is always ready to forgive us. In fact, God longs to forgive us. Just read the parable of the prodigal son in the gospel of Luke, chapter 15. Like the father in that story, God never stops loving us and He runs to meet us when we seek Him. For some of us, this kind of love can be hard to accept but it’s true. On one occasion, Peter asked Jesus how often he needed to forgive someone else when they sinned against him and I want you to see Jesus response:
“Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times, Jesus replied, but seventy times seven!”
– Matthew 18:21-22
Seventy times seven was not a calculation meaning 490 times but it was a way of speaking during that time which meant every time. This is what is expected from us and we are imperfect people. Therefore, we can know that this is how often God forgives us because God is perfect and His love never ends. He will forgive us every time we ask Him.
One person who grasped the love of God was the apostle Paul and God inspired him to write the following:
“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 8:38-39
So right now, let me ask you, “Are you convinced?” Do you know how much God loves you? Have you begun to grasp in an even deeper way the love that God has not just for the entire world but also for you personally? For some of you, this may be the first time you have ever grasped this truth. If this is you, I want to encourage you to let God’s love for you sink in and realize that you are not just someone he created, but someone He wants to be his child. Know that He wants you to commit your life to Him trusting in what Jesus did for you by dying on the cross and rising from the grave defeating death.
For those of us who have already committed our lives to Jesus, we also need to let God’s love sink in. We need to resist limiting God’s love based upon our human definitions and experiences. We need to remember that God loves us as we are, not as we should be, and He longs to help us become as we can be.
So remember, God loves you and me. He loves us with an unwavering, selfless, sacrificial, unconditional and inexhaustible love, and this should encourage us to discover all that God has in store for us, and it should motivate us to give our best to Him.
Paul McCart is a Pastor with over 20 years of experience in lead pastor, church planting, and youth ministry experience. Paul has been married to his wife for 25 years and has three sons. He loves to have fun and laugh with friends!