“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

My Photo
Location: United States

A person God turned around many times.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bible love—the best love

Maybe you have or haven’t ever thought of it, but the Bible isn’t overflowing in bold statements about God’s love. Love isn’t gushing out of every page, per se. In fact, the open admissions to it are actually rare.

Look at the Old Testament. How many times does it plainly say, “God loves you, and so do I”? You don’t find bumper sticker religion there. The Bible contains one account after another of strong language and judgment. And commandments.
And the New Testament, in which one would expect a cornucopia of loving expressions, doesn’t fare much better than the Old. Yes, there are a few more promises of deep love, but they are surprisingly few and too far between. A love letter? Good news? For these reasons, many reject the Book; and many others keep it but don’t love to read it. To many who read the Bible, it isn’t holy because of love; thus, to them, it is not really holy and they don’t obtain characters transformed by it.

But, the Bible has volumes and volumes of good news, and yes, it is a love letter from our very far away Father mailed right to the very door of our heart. Why then His seeming reserve toward us? Why the lack of profuse overtures from His heart that we are loved by Him? Is He afraid to make a commitment? Is He afraid to openly say, “I love you?”

God has left us with abundant indication that He loves us deeply. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3). “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (Jn. 6:37). “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28).

Those are certainly good words and very encouraging. A God in both Testaments, throughout the history of man, yearning for His children, receives them, and heals them. Those promises speak of One who will forgive and gather us into His arms. If we let the Bible speak to us, we will hear Him say to you and me individually everything He spoke to His audiences of old, “I will…receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also,” and He will say of us, “They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand… and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” (Jn. 10: 28,29).

Of this we can rest assured. We can stake our claim on a “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us.”

But then the question by those of us who have read much of the whole Bible, Why then these promises so few and far between in the Bible? Why strew them so sparingly, and surround those few promises so profusely by warnings, punishments, and apparent outbreaks of divine anger, not to mention rules, laws and commandments? Why mix one part good news with 50 parts bad news?

I believe this is because the God who is rich in mercy is also a God rich in wisdom. He knows us inside and out, better than we know ourselves. We may know what we need, but He knows what we really need. He made us and knows our spiritual constitutions. He understands the laws that govern our psyches and what will bring us the truest happiness, and He works to bring us to that happiness. He works only for our benefit, even if we don’t recognize His work or the benefits, such as they really are.

In our fallen, self-centered condition we believe we should have a certain kind of love from God; but what we naturally desire is a self-centered, destructive love. We want God to be infatuated with us, like our first boyfriend or girlfriend, or we expect Him to be like a doting human parent. Because we want to be spoiled in His love, our oft offended distrust flies up so quickly toward His firmness and strong warnings. But real love does not spoil; it serves and edifies. As the wisest and most loving parents refuse to spoil their children, so does our loving and holy Creator refuse to spoil His. True love does not destroy; it only can work for the strengthening of the objects of its attention and attachment.

Satan, the great enemy of love, a demon empty of love, desires nothing but our destruction. He is wily in his ability to devise a love that looks good, but one that kills—that is, self-centered love. Such love is a drug, a sugar-coated caplet of slow poison. The Bible labels it, the Wine of Babylon, and it receives God’s fiercest denunciation. “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” (Rev. 18:2,3).

God cannot be drawn into giving us self-centered love, as we foolishly long for. He distinguishes destructive infatuation from real, pure, ennobling love—a love purified from any taint of self. If we will look carefully and constantly at what is written in the Holy Scriptures, His love will surely grow apparent to us. His every word and act are wonderfully good. As our hearts and minds are washed by His words of equity and righteousness, in every warning and judgment and commandment and rule we will gradually see more and more clearly the deepest love ever revealed to mankind. Those vehicles of love will all become beautiful to us; they will be seen as they truly are because our blinders will have been washed away. And it will all become plain as day that God’s treatment of man’s absurd foolishness and selfishness, through all His judgments and commandments, was good and fair, and that the God of the Bible does love us profusely, after all.

Not a syrupy, sickeningly sweet love, but a liberating, nourishing love that leads us to humility and to the forsaking of self-service, will we discern in the true and only wise God. Jealousy for our eternal safety, mercy, gentleness, correction, —even reproof, if necessary—characterize the divine love of God our Father as revealed in the Lord God of both Testaments, the loving Son, Jesus Christ.

As He promised us from of old, “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” (Is. 54:10).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear vistors to this blog, Greeatings. I enjoy this blog heartly and though I do not contribute to it I call it mine as well. I intended not write till I read this statement below it challenged me so much and I could not help pasting again to see. His every word and act are wonderfully good. As our hearts and minds are washed by His words of equity and righteousness, in every warning and judgment and commandment and rule we will gradually see more and more clearly the deepest love ever revealed to mankind. That is wonderful.

Daniel Nsubuga in Uganda Africa

5/16/2008 6:10 AM  
Blogger Gabrielle Eden said...

Dave - you certainly have a love from God.

5/20/2008 9:08 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home