#1 – GOD IS FOR US!
If you’re a Christian this is pretty obvious. God loves us. God cares for us yeah yeah yeah (enter Christian throw away line here). If you’re not a Christian maybe you’ve never really thought about it or even further, maybe you disagree with the notion altogether. Either way it’s absolutely crucial to one’s understanding of God. And let’s be honest, the more important question to the human experience is not, ‘Is there a God’, but IS GOD GOOD? If God exists but isn’t good then who wants to follow him anyway. Right?
The Christian view of God is that God is good. And not just good in a moral sense but that he’s good in his desires and actions towards us. It’s one thing to believe God created us – this shows God to be powerful; it’s another thing altogether to believe that God cares for us – this shows God to be personal. The gospel says – GOD IS FOR US!!! This is crucial because our view of God shapes our interaction with God. If we don’t believe God is good, we’ll never trust him. We’ll never move towards him with our affections. We won’t give our hearts to someone that hasn’t given theirs to us.
James C. Hefley tells the story of when Wycliffe translator Doug Meland and his wife moved into a village of Brazil’s Fulnio Indians, he was referred to simply as “the white man.” The term was by no means complimentary, since other white men had exploited them, burned their homes, and robbed them of their lands. But after the Melands learned the Fulnio language and began to help the people with medicine and in other ways, they began calling Doug “the respectable white man.” When the Melands began adapting the customs of the people, the Fulnio gave them greater acceptance and spoke of Doug as “the white Indian.” Then one day, as Doug was washing the dirty, bloodied foot of an injured Fulnio boy, he overheard a bystander say to another: “Whoever heard of a white man washing an Indian’s foot before? Certainly this man is from God!” From that day on, whenever Doug would go into an Indian home, it would be announced “Here comes the man God sent us.”
As the Fulnio’s view of the Melands changed, so did their affections towards them. So too with God. Which is why God being for us is of utmost importance and why the Christian faith focuses so much on the love of God. Miss it and you miss God altogether. The Christian faith begins not with doing but with receiving. Before we are to love God and others, we must first believe and receive God’s love for us. In fact, John summed up the faith when he wrote, ‘We love because he first loved us.’ (1 John 4:19).
GOD IS FOR OTHERS
When you read the Bible you get a sense that many of the authors had a deep understanding of God’s love.
Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
King David wrote in Psalm 59:16-17
“…I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God” (Psalms 59:16,17).
Both experienced great hardship. Deep struggle. Painful circumstances. Yet never neither gave up. Neither quit. WHY???? Because love is the most motivating and empowering force to the human soul. Love empowers you because it accompanies you as you walk through life with all it’s joys and all its afflictions. Love makes the highs higher, and can get you through the lows. Paul and David believed God was for and loved them. But what about me?
GOD IS FOR ME?
Is God for me? Really? Me? Its seems much easier to believe God is for someone else. After all, they’re morally superior, more gifted, more compliant and willing, greater capacity and just better overall people. This is reinforced when looking at Paul and David, heroes of the faith. Of course they can believe God loved them just look at who they were? Oh wait…they were actually pretty bad guys when you think about it. David committed adultery, organised a murder to cover it up. Paul beat up and persecuted Christians before his conversion. Even still I continue to struggle to believe God loves me. Why?
- Sin has hardened and affected our hearts
Like a pebble in a river. It has flowing water running over it, yet it can’t absorb the water. It remains cold and hard. Sin has really affected us from experiencing God’s love in a deep and tangible way. It may not be that we’re intentionally resisting God’s love, but more that we’re oblivious to it. We don’t see it, recognise it or receive it.
- We express and experience love conditionally
We don’t know how to understand God’s love because we’re not like God. We filter God’s love through our flawed human experience of love. Our love is up and down depending on our day and what’s happening. We love conditionally and therefore assume God does too.
- We live in comparison to someone’s highlight real not their behind the scenes
In our world of social media perfection we constantly compare ourselves to people we know little about. We see the best version of them and assume that is the true version and also that God loves that version. Whereas we know ourselves. Our true selves. With doubts and fears, negative thoughts towards others, lying, cheating, swearing and the list goes on. Again we believe God loves conditionally based on someone’s good behaviour and we know our behaviour certainly doesn’t stack up.
- We experience the pain and hurt of rejection, abandonment, suffering, loss, loneliness, which leaves us feeling unloved.
We live in a broken world and experience the effects of it. Our painful experience make us call into question whether God really is for us. Nobody enjoys pain. Nobody enjoys problems and surely if God is for us he’d remove these from our experience?
These are just some reasons we struggle to believe God is for us. However the Bible is adamant that God is for us. So which is it? In ‘Part 2’ I’ll explore numerous ways that show God is for us. Either way it’s absolutely critical to your Christian experience to believe that God not only loves others, but like Paul you can say, ‘I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ (Galatians 2:20)
Believing and receiving God’s love will comprehensively change our journey of faith. When we believe God has moved towards us, we’re more likely to move towards him. When we see how God is for us, we’re more likely to be for God. When we realise that God has already given his heart to us, we’re more likely to give our hearts to him.
“God is too good to be unkind; he is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace his hands, when we cannot see His way past the tears, trust his heart.” Charles Spurgeon!!!