Rethinking God’s Love for Us
– By Ron Simkins, based on his teaching on March 7
Many of us want to experience God’s love in deeper ways, so we participate in a variety of personal and corporate activities to make that happen. I think, however, if we want to open ourselves to a deeper experience of God’s love, we need to rethink God’s love for us.
Here is one of those areas we need to rethink. We Christians often create our own biggest doctrinal/theological problems both for believers and for unbelievers. Those problems, in turn, directly impact how we think about God’s love for us and for others.
An example: We often think that God’s main goal for history and for Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was “to forgive,” but I don’t think God’s ultimate goal for us is forgiveness.
How would you respond if someone said to you, “Please be in a friendship relationship with me—I need someone to forgive.” Probably not very positively. You would either hear it as a serious denigration of your value as a person, or you would see it as an invitation to “keep sinning, because grace can abound.” Both options are deadly in a relationship. It’s not the kind of relationship God wants with us.
What if a parent says, “I want to have some children so I can have some people to show how much I love them by constantly forgiving them.” Woe to the child in such a relationship!
And now think for a moment, if our main message in witnessing to what God has done in Jesus is that God’s love is primarily about forgiveness, is it any wonder that our witness is often only effective when people know that they have made a big mess of their lives?
This misunderstanding of the goal of God’s love has lead to self-debasement of our humanness, to cheap grace attitudes, and to the critic’s response “Of course God forgives, that’s what gods are for” – Voltaire.
Please don’t mis-hear what I am saying. I am unbelievably grateful for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Without this gift, I could never stand before God or relate to God without fear, nor, could my relationship with my wonderful wife have survived if she was not quick to forgive me over and over through the years.
But, forgiveness is not the goal of either relationship. It is a means to greater intimacy and openness. That’s God’s ultimate goal: A healthy relationship.
The Biblical claim is that this will finally result in God bringing us individually into the great potential with which he created us—male and female into the image of God, more and more like Jesus. And corporately, it will lead to the fullness of the reign of God—a society in which we can live fully and openly with God, other people, and ourselves. Now that is a great goal!