We’ll start our inquiry about grace by first looking into the nature of the love of God where it is rooted. Easy, isn’t it?
The love of God is probably the most difficult question ever raised in this century. It is difficult because almost everyone who believes in God today believes that He is a loving God. And that’s exactly the problem. Why? Because not many people know how that love is defined. In trying to understand the love of God, we project into Him all our mistaken ideas of what love is.
Some of us think of love in terms of sacrifice. For example, if you love your son, you give him what he needs and bail him out of prison when necessary. You tolerate his crass, disrespectful behavior, close your eyes when he’s sleeping around with different women and pray that your brand of love will change him someday. You are a living martyr. You are insulted, disrespected, hurt, ignored.
If that is how you define love, that’s probably how you think God’s love is. Listen to your friends. Look at your Facebook newsfeed and this is exactly what people say about the love of God. They say God’s love is unconditional, He is always there for you no matter what, even if you are happily flaunting your sinfulness. God is pictured like a desperate mother whose job is to take care, to support, to cheer, to bleed, to understand, to cry, to love, to die, to take all the insult, to suffer, to be a doormat, to turn the other cheek, all because of you.
Notice that most of it is Biblically true. Yes God loves us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. There’s no argument there. But the problem lies not in the love of God but in the despicable attitude behind those confessions of love. Most of the time, when people say God loves them that much, it is not done in the spirit of humility but as a way to assuage their guilt over a sin that has been recently performed. They say it to pacify the raging guilt inside, not to thankfully confess the love of God.
You see, the problem with the love of God is that we try to define it in our human terms, not in Biblical terms. We look, for example, at the dynamics of an earthly father-son relationship and try to work a theology out of that. Would a father really punish his son to eternal damnation just because the boy didn’t obey? Of course not. So now you would build a belief system that denies the existence of hell just because of this father-son dynamics? Don’t you think that’s a little too simplistic?
I believe that to have a correct understanding of the love of God, we need to look at the Bible closely, recognize the nuances everytime the love of God is mentioned and draw conclusions from there. For a moment, let’s set aside our human constructs of love and see what we could actually find in the Bible.
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