Thursday, September 9, 2010
God's Love: Part IV, "Love's Response"
But I’m not all that bad. I haven’t done some of the evil things that exist on this earth, you might say. Well, neither have I, but I have done my share of evil. I have not always loved God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, either. Or my neighbor as myself. John Eldredge says it this way, “We all fail on the most essential virtue of all, the virtue of Eden: We fail when it comes to loving.”
And God is the wounded Lover.
“The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (Genesis 6:5-6)
Do you see that? Love has cost Him dearly. If you are reading this, if you are breathing, I am certain you have experienced the pain of rejection. I don’t know about you, but my knee-jerk response when I’ve been rejected is to give it back! Like a wounded animal that attacks anyone who comes near it in its misery.
Not our God. Scripture has it that, “The whole world is under the control of the Evil One.” (1 John 5:19) Instead of abandoning us in our misery, He is going to fight for what is rightfully His! He began His pursuit in the Garden of Eden when He went looking for Adam and Eve, who were hiding in the bushes after they had sinned. Rescue is His plan.
His long sustained pursuit of mankind is recorded through many stories of the Bible. The most dramatic of the Old Testament is the Exodus, where God works to set His people free from the Egyptian slave-drivers. Four hundred years the Israelites were captive to a despairing life. Relentlessly, God encroaches upon Pharoah to let them go; when he refuses, the miraculous happens. Trapped between the Red Sea and the armies of Egypt racing down toward them in chariots, God parts the waters. The Israelites go through on dry land, while the entire Egyptian army is drowned behind them.
But our hearts are always going astray. (Hebrews 3:10) It seems it is hard to keep us! Time and time again God rescues us, and we turn to other lovers, lured away by our enemy and mistrust once again. We keep grasping for the smaller pleasures in life that eventually leave us empty and cost us dearly, when the Living Water we long for that will never run out is FREE!
As always, God has a plan. Refusing to leave us in Satan’s grip or bound to our sinful state forever, He redeems the heart He gave us. “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)
Remember the price for our mistrust and disobedience is death, as God warned us in the Garden of Eden. Sentenced to both a physical and spiritual death—separated from God and life forever—there is only one way out. Ransom.
In the midst of our rejection, God does the unthinkable. He will have to die to rescue His Beloved. He sends His Son, Jesus. Leaving His glory behind and His place at His Father’s side, He comes under the cover of night. He comes to win us over. To win us back to Himself. To win you.
Jesus tells a story to help us understand His coming. “If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one?” (Matthew 18:12) God sets His eye on you. On me. He willingly chooses to go to the cross, and die a most cruel death. He endures the rejection of His Father in our place, so we don’t have to. (Mark 15:34)
In the face of betrayal and rejection, God made a way to save us. Not to be “good people,” or “good church-goers.” But to be His intimate allies, His lovers, friends of the deepest kind. This one, ultimate act of love proves for all time that God’s heart toward us is good. We need not wonder anymore.
(my own comment is below, click "comments" to view)