A few months ago, one of my friends posted a video of her kids telling them what they had learned in Sunday School that morning. Always up for a kid's video, I couldn't wait to watch it. It did not disappoint but was absolutely adorable.
At first, my friend's kids were doing pretty good answering all of my friend's questions about what they had learned that morning. Even at a young age, they knew their facts really well.
Although I have to admit that the most adorable part wasn't when the kids were acing the quiz, but when they got stuck and didn't know the answer. Not knowing what to say when she was asked, "What did God give them?" in the cutest little voice, she answered, "Love."
And why not? Isn't that what most Christian (and non-Christian) adults like to talk about when asked about God? Without a doubt, one of the most popular attributes of God is that God is love.
There are countless songs written about it. Many wear the t-shirt or put the bumper sticker on their car.
In the world of Progressive Christianity, God’s love is one of their favorite topics. They misrepresent this character trait to say that because God loves everyone, He also approves and applauds everything they do. He loves them and wants them to be happy. Because this definition of God’s love fits their liberal theology and lifestyle, it makes them very happy.
However, this definition of God’s love is also completely wrong.
You see, God’s love is not a hippy-dippy-free-to-be-and-do-whatever-I-want-because-God-loves-me character trait.
As we talked about last week, God cannot have that attitude because of His holiness. God does not sin, and He does not approve of sin.
Instead, God’s love goes hand in hand with His holiness.
God’s more significant expression of love was sending Jesus, His Son, to earth to die for our sins and totally pay the price for our sin against God.
I John 4:9-10 says, "This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God." (The Message)
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV)
God’s love does not contradict His holiness and approve of man’s sins because He feels sorry for them. Instead, God’s love sent His Son to die on the cross and pay the price for man’s sin so that we could experience forgiveness and become new creatures in Christ.
Because of His sacrifice, we can experience deliverance from the sins that hold us captive.
Because of His sacrifice, we have the hope of eternity in Heaven with God rather than in Hell with the devil.
Because of God’s love that sent His Son, we can become new creatures in Christ who are now free to follow God’s commands and pursue holiness in our own lives.
You see, God’s love didn’t just feel sorry for humanity’s sin problem. His love proactively solved the problem.
So often I hear, “Why can’t God love me the way I am?”
Well, the answer is that God does love you the way you are. In fact, He loves you too much to let you stay that way.
Honestly, what parent could look at a child with a broken arm and a dislocated leg, crying and in pain and say, “Oh honey, I accept you just the way you are, I’m not going to do anything to try to help you.”?
That’s not love! That’s cruel! A loving parent would help their child and take them to the doctor. They would do everything they could to help the child heal, be free from pain, and be able to live life normally. That’s love!
Recently, I went through a back injury. When I went into the doctor’s office, I didn’t want him to say, “Hey, Adessa, don’t worry about it. I like you just the way you are so I’m not going to realign your spine so you can stand up straight.” Truthfully, that’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted him to make the pain stop!
That’s what Jesus wants to do for every woman who comes to Him with a broken heart, damaged mind, or wounded spirit. He wants to bring healing, health, and wholeness. That's true love: not just accepting your pain, but going to the cross so you can be saved, delivered, and healed.
That is the epitome of love. As John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (ESV)
This is what God did for us. That is legendary love!
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."