Do You? A Good Friday Reminder
~~Having lunch with a friend recently I nearly rolled my eyes out loud when there was a pause in the conversation and she looked at me soulfully and asked, “Melissa, do you know how much God loves you?” Seriously? It never fails. In almost every first deep spiritual conversation I have with a new friend, this is the question they ask me. I know their intention is kind, but it is so presumptuous! You know what I want to ask in return? I want to look at them with the face of a prophet (that is my spiritual gift) and ask, “Do you know how much God hates your sin?”
I’ve been listening to Pastor Armstrong preach through Genesis. I just finished lesson 2C in which we learn that if sin had not entered the world we would not have known the full character of God. How else would we know His holiness but in comparison with our sin? How else would we know His wrath unless there was a penalty for that sin? How else would we know His mercy but that He provided a way for us to escape that penalty? How else would we feel His grace but to comprehend our guilt?
Yes. I know how much God loves me. Because I know myself.
A pastor wrote recently that our self-worth is not dependent on man’s point of view, even our own, but is determined by the price God set for our redemption. In other words, whatever God was willing to pay, is what we are worth. It’s one of those sentiments that sounds good on its surface, but I’m not sure I agree (not sure scripture does either!). I think by weights and measures it was not a fair trade. To this pastor and my friends I would ask… Do you understand what it cost to redeem you? Do you understand that by your own merit, and by the standard of the word, you are not worth it? Not even now. Not even on this side of the cross. God traded His son, His only son, whom He loved, His perfect, spotless, guiltless son…for you. He didn’t do it because you were worth it. He did it because it was absolutely necessary. He did it because on your own you are so wretched that there was
The depth of your sin is so profound that only a perfect life sacrificed in your place could ever satisfy God’s wrath - and offer you the embrace of His deferred love. Even now there is nothing inherently different about who you are. Except Jesus. And the Spirit. Gifts and nothing more, which make you worthy only because of their nature…not yours.
That, my friends, is how much God loves you. And you can’t explain it. You can’t give a sound reason for it. You can’t wrangle a list long enough to prove that you earned it, and anyone who knows you intimately would give testimony that you don’t deserve it. Because God loves you, an innocent man was beaten, mocked, and scourged, and then he carried your cross to the top of a hill where he was crucified in your place. Had he been only a man, it would be a debt you could never repay. That he was God makes it incomprehensible. Except for love.
Love and wrath. You can’t understand the one while being blind to the other. You can’t fully know how much God loves you except from under the weight of a well-deserved but stayed execution.
We cannot rest dreamy eyed in the loving arms of God and not also realize that we didn’t earn the right to be there. We cannot trust His tenderness without also recognizing His holiness. We should not presume on His mercy without understanding the gravity of our trespass. If I err, then, in seeming to focus more on my failures than on his loving kindness, forgiveness, mercy and grace, it is only because I deeply want to be worthy of my price and I am fully aware that I am not and never will be. So, though my outward professions of God’s love are not flowering fluff, I am still keenly aware of it from here in my brokenness. I have taken my own measure. I have drawn the plumb line. I have been weighed against a heavy standard.
Yes. I know how much God loves me. Do you?