But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
I am somewhat baffled that Christians, Saints, God’s people, those that proclaim to “know” or have a “relationship with Him, are the very ones that do not fully embrace and receive God’s love. It seems as though when we need His love the most we reject it. Oftentimes, this rejection is at a subconscious level, because who in their right mind would reject the love of God – right. However, because of our perception of God, we unknowingly reject His love.
I understand that many of us were preached to and taught in a way that formed our belief and image of God – who He is and what He does. Many of us were taught to believe that God is strict and hands out immediate punishment for our mistakes; that He sits in Heaven watching us and recording all of our bad deeds, so He can hand out swift judgments. That type of teaching only leads to an attempt to “hide” from God just as Adam and Eve did when they ate the forbidden fruit. Instead of running to God for help, that kind of teaching causes us to run from God when we mess up (“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16).
Unfortunately, those of us that were subject to that form of teaching were not taught about God as “Our Father.” We were taught the Lord’s Prayer – “Our Father, which art in Heaven . . .” (Luke 11:2), but we were not taught the attributes of God as our Heavenly Father. We were taught to literally fear God; be afraid of Him. There is a difference between being afraid of God and having reverential fear for God – respect for His authority and position. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38, “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Please note that Jesus said love – not fear.
When we begin to understand and perceive God as a loving Father, we will no longer try to hide or run from Him. Instead, we would run to Him because we know He loves us, and we know He is the only one that can help us. More importantly, we know that He will help us (“All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37; TLB – “. . . and I will never, never reject them.”).
The truth of the matter is there is nothing we can do to change God’s love for us. God’s nature is love; it is who He is (“. . . for God is love.” 1 John 4:8). We do not control when or how God loves us – He does and He has chosen to love us unconditionally – without condition; no provision; no stipulation. Throughout scripture, there is proof of our Father’s unconditional love for us. We are assured in Romans 8:28, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Without condition – “God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
The ultimate demonstration of God’s unconditional love is the exchange of His Son’s life for ours (Romans 5:8, “But God showed his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”) “In this act we see what real love is: it is not our love for God but His love for us when He sent his Son to satisfy God’s anger against our sins.” 1 John 4:1 (TLB). Also, see Ephesians 2:4-7 above and, when you have a moment, read the Living Bible version of those scriptures.
I pray that we fully understand and see clearly just how great our Father’s love for us truly is. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13.