Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Manifesto- Part 1: For the Love of God

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV) Most people who have ever stepped foot in a church know this verse. It ranks right up there with Genesis 1:1 in popularity. But how many of us really understand it? God sent His only son to die that we might live. The concept is simple enough that any person can grasp it. There is some kind of indelible beauty inherent in the sacrifice of one person’s life for another. We see it in movies all the time, when a character dies for the protagonist and if done well it can be a truly heart-wrenching moment. Why then do we (I) feel so calm and unaffected when we read that verse?

Answer: we just took the most climatic moment in human history and presented it without any backstory. And Bruce Willis is a ghost – so what, right? We kind of ruin it by just quoting that verse. In fact, at the very least I wish we would continue on to verse seventeen, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” It’s an interesting verse, one that evokes a healthy appetite to know more and get that backstory, but we flaccidly present God’s love with our retelling of the Gospel.

The Old Testament is story after story of God displaying His justice, mercy, provision, patience, jealousy, power, and love. We have our redeeming moments but as a whole we fail miserably as men born into sin. We are born separated from God, an ally to His enemy. (Rom 3:23) Despite that standing He loves us. A few months ago I had this moment of clarity in a time where I found myself battling internally with anger. I don’t know that I had ever felt truly felt hate more than I did in that moment, but God graciously gave me insight, allowing me to understand how miniscule my indignation was compared to how he feels towards sin. I can’t imagine.

Sin tore everything beautiful He had made into shadows of their former selves. Sin stole from Him all the glory and honor that is rightfully His and us, the crown of creation. We willingly gave ourselves over to sin and all the consequences that come with it. God chose Israel as His people, the ones who would usher in the provision of a permanent atonement for our sins but time and time again they strayed – a bride undignified in her ways. The book of Hosea paints them as the harlot who leaves her husband for the idols of the world. Every time we sin we cheat on God. We steal His glory. Just before the story of the Flood I read, “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Gen 6:6) because every intent of man’s heart was evil. We broke God’s heart. Sobering? I hope so.

I understand that we can’t hold ourselves accountable for their mistakes. But the fact that God was brought to the point where He sincerely regretted creating man really struck me. My devotions in the weeks before revolved around hope, forgiveness, and love. My next thought was, “God let His perfect son die for me? A sinner He (at one time) was sorry He created and a slave to His enemy.” God hates Sin and then let His son die for a sinner. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) He wanted us back that badly. You and I were worth His perfect son’s life. If you ever feel separated from God because of a mistake remember this – that chasm closed with the choice Jesus made on that cross to surrender his life to death in our place. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:17-19)

I can’t pretend this explains the love of God in a way that does it justice. His love is beyond comprehension. I don’t need to quote the bible to prove that. My point in this post is a Manifesto of sorts, that you might understand my position. I am a child of God, bought with a price for the sake of His glory and honor, that His fame may be known through the earth. I am a slave to Christ and the love He demonstrated on the cross. He is literally the crux of my life therefore all that follows is a result of His love towards me. 


P.S.- Part 2 will probably come in another week or so. Also, the Hebrew tagline has multiple meanings but it comes from Hosea. The transliteration is Ruhamah, which can be rendered "love and mercy" OR "one who was spared (because of love)". I prefer the latter. 

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