God is Love

In a way, this post follows on from the previous one, in which Jesus demonstrates His love for Peter, and shows that there are no depths to which we can sink without God still loving us.

God is love...

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 1 John 4:16-17 NIV

One thing I am learning about and experiencing on a new level, through what has been going on in my life lately, is God's love. For reasons I am not going to explore in public, I have, on one level or another, often struggled to accept or understand that I am loved. In some ways it's been a bit of an alien concept - though less and less so as the years go by.

That simple three word sentence, "God is love", is anything but simple, particularly once it's been through my (peculiar/particular?) 'mental filters'. The fact of God's love is something which I have both known about and experienced on several levels in my Christian life, but there have always been parts of me that haven't really 'got it'.

It's a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I've had the basic outline, and a fair idea of the picture, for a long time. I've also got various big chunks done, so I know what they look like, but I haven't known where they fit in the overall picture. In the past few weeks though, it has been as though members of the church family have been coming to me with some of the missing pieces...

It's very uplifting.

There have been people who have done something simple, direct and deliberate to show me that they, and God, love me.

Then there have been people who've said things to me, which they clearly had no idea were significant - a bit like someone handing me a jigsaw piece and saying "Here, have this; though I've no idea what it is."

There have been people who've come to me, very tentatively, to tell me something, though they haven't really known why, other than that they needed to say it... For instance, after Sunday evening's service, one of my friends came up to me, put his hands on my shoulders, and said that he had something he wanted to share with me. He wasn't sure whether I'd get anything from it, and he said that I was to take it or leave it as seemed fit to me. What he wanted to share was from the parable of the prodigal son - it's an allegorical story about our rebellion against God, and how God longs to forgive us and restore us to our 'rightful' place in His family. It finishes up with the father saying

“But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:22-24 NIV

What he wanted to get across to me is the idea that I am that son - that God the Father wants to clothe me in the best robe, the ring and sandals, and be the guest of honour at the 'welcome home' party, rather than just a servant. I've never had a problem grasping that in my head, but in my heart of hearts, I don't think I'd ever got beyond

I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.' " Luke 15:19 NIV

But then...

...God sent his Son ... to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.Galatians 4:4-7 NIV

Isn't that amazing?

Lastly, and mentioning no names so as to protect the guilty and embarrassed, there are even one or two people who have said things which just sort of 'slipped out' before they realised what they were saying, and which surprised them at least as much as me! But no less special because of that.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last - and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:12-17 NIV

All in all, it has been lovely... And, like a completed jigsaw, has fitted together to become much more than the sum of its parts. I feel very loved, by God and His people. I also feel very unworthy of that love, but God's love is a free gift - we do nothing to deserve it, but He wants to give it to each of us anyway.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 NIV

Isn't that amazing?

I really, really, wish I could find a way to repay God, and my friends, for their love, but I don't feel as though I have the faintest idea where to begin. And that is probably how it's meant to be.

Overwhelmed by grace.

Bombed into submission by love.

God bless you all.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2021