Overstating God’s Love?
Have we overemphasized God’s great love for us?
I realize I might be getting myself into a little bit of trouble at even the thought of dismissing our communication of God’s love, but I can’t help wonder if we have been emphasizing the wrong thing - oversinging - overstating - overcommunicating God’s love.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The commission we find in Matthew is to make disciples and teach people to obey. I do not see our ministry or call to the unbelieving world as being to “make God’s great love known”.
Yes, I realize we are to make His great love known, but the love that God has is never more revealed in power, then when we preach the gospel. God’s love is demonstrated in this - that Jesus gave His life. ( 1 John 4:9)
Let me back up for a moment - Let’s think about the commission and the call to discipleship - “come and follow”
Follow meaning, don’t lead
Follow meaning, come learn
Follow meaning, you are not equipped
Follow meaning, let someone else take charge
Follow meaning, you have lack
Follow meaning, you have need
Follow meaning, come and be changed and transformed
Would you respond to that type of call? To me, that type of call tells me something is insufficient in me and I’m needing something else. Is that the real message we are suppose to be broadcasting to the world?
The thought of communicating that makes me a little uncomfortable- the thought of standing on a platform and telling people they’re incomplete -broken - that they need to FOLLOW JESUS. But that was my turning point - realizing I was incomplete - broken and needed to follow Jesus. Hearing about His love made no change in me until I realized I needed that love to transform me.
When is the last time the message the church broadcast was “come and follow”?
Instead, I fear, we’ve broadcast God’s love so loudly it’s overshadowed the need to follow -maybe we’ve created a false sense that no change, repentance or transformation is needed.
Could it be we have created a sense of “come and simply receive” with no requirements attached. I wonder if that is the commission? Maybe we’re trying to bait people with God’s love? Does the gospel need bait? Does the message need any help - or is it powerful enough to stand on its own? Yes, the Bible tells me it is (Romans 1:16), but do I actually believe that?
Was the cross- the pain and suffering all about Jesus giving us a hug, or was it about satisfying a righteous requirement of God the Father?
No one wants to talk about sin, hell, the cross or eternity- but isn’t this what it’s all about?
Are we attracting people to church based on a hyped up environment of love and acceptance? “COME TO OUR CHURCH AND BE YOURSELF”. Isn’t being ourselves the problem in the first place? Our default position is lost - is it not? Are we setting people up for disappointment when they discover that the real call and response to Jesus is to carry a cross?
I’m convinced God wants you as you are... don’t get me wrong- and God definitely loves you. But His mission is not to leave you as you are- you have to make the decision that being in God’s love means being changed transformed and renewed.
Maybe we’ve convinced people that God’s love has no requirement - I’m not saying it needs to be earned, but it does require.
Do you want to walk in God’s love, His favor, His abundant life? Then maybe following Him and the cross you must pick up, starts with recognizing that change is needed in your life. I’m not talking about an addiction or habit- yes those need to change, but maybe the change that is needed is simply recognizing that Jesus must be front and center- the “John 3:16 “ God loved the world” salvation is contingent on “the whosoever believes” portion of the scripture. And believing means total commitment and submission- to believe is to be all in, not just affirmed by the idea that God loves you.
You know there are portions of scripture that talk about what God hates - or as David Platt emphasizes HATES SIN AND SINNERS - not my words and not even David Platts- but we do find this in scripture. And while I’m not advocating we broadcast a hateful message, hate speech or any type of hysterical preaching that makes people feel worthless and condemned, I do have to wonder- have we overemphasized an aspect of God because it sounds nice and in doing so have missed the mark?
Look, here is what this boils down to…
Does God love you without merit? ABSOLUTELY! He loves you with everything- He’s crazy in love with you!.
Does God require something from your commitment to Him?
Well here is where it gets tricky - you did nothing to earn salvation - but the Bible tells me that if the Spirit of God lives in me, my life will reflect the character and yearnings of Christ - Holy loving, sacrificial giving and a hunger for God...
Maybe the deeper question is... does God’s Spirit live in you? … and if He does, what message is He looking to communicate to you and through you to the world, God’s love or Christ’s commission to follow as a disciple?