Monday, July 14, 2014

Loving God!

image used under Creative Commons license,photo by Paul Walsh on Flickr
The July "writing challenge" for the Google+ Christian Bloggers community is "about what it means to fall in love with Jesus and how that plays out in your everyday life!".  If we dig deep enough, we quickly discover that's not something we can do on our own.

1 John 4:19 (KJV)  We love him, because he first loved us.

Thanks to our spiritual genetics getting botched up by Adam and Eve making wrong choices, we need some help in getting to the same place the youth camp worshippers are at in our illustration.

Revelation 2:4 (KJV)  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Adam and Eve decided there was something better than what God had for them, better than God. They were in a "perfect" environment.  Adam and Eve were overseers of all that existed on the earth. They met daily with God and He taught them what they needed to know to be comfortable, have all their needs met, experience joy, to be happy, and to grow in their relationship with Him.  And yet, as Star Wars would describe it, they went from the light to the Dark Side.  Life for them and for the rest of us has been "interesting" ever since.

Picture with me, if you will, a meeting of the members of the Trinity.  At that meeting, they discussed the problem that the choice made by Adam and Eve would make.  And the solution. After which they moved forward with the solution.  Considering the nature of God, that's probably an overly humanized description.  The communication is likely to have been instantaneous.  But it wasn't hidden from anyone in heaven, including Satan, who hadn't yet rebelled and been thrown out of heaven.

We know the rebellion and the hatred of humans was over the fact that the solution for man wasn't available to the rebelling angels.  Those in heaven were with God all the time and knew it.  Their environment was perfect because of that fact.  In contrast, Adam and Eve could only sense God's presence when He made Himself known.  And an angry Satan was out to destroy God's "favorites".

Satan's plan was to drag us permanently into Hell, along with him and the rest of the fallen angels. And he wanted us in permanent spiritual darkness where we'd question and doubt God and be totally unaware of His love and presence.  In a permanent state of sin.  But part of God's solution is described in Psalm 18:11 (KJV) as, "He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.".

God's omnipresence allows Him to be available to cover us, whether we realize it or not.  And it allows Him to give us sufficient glimpses to draw us toward making the right decisions.  It's only the darkness of our own fallen flesh that prevents us from recognizing that.  And that's where, as they say, "the rubber meets the road".

When we look at that verse in Psalm 18, the canvas of our life becomes a  really interesting painting. We create spiritual darkness around us by mixing the enticements of the devil with our own flesh's responses.  At the same time, despite that drastic move away from God by us, God chooses to remain at our side to protect us, mostly hidden by our spiritual darkness.  God's not looking for credit or fame, just a way to express His love for us.  Because that's what real love does.

If we look beyond the world, the flesh, and the devil for fulfillment, we realize that only God can satisfy.  Once we recognize that and choose to be one with Him, our darkness begins to dissipate and we begin to see all the times that God was at work in our life, averting the disasters our choices should have created.  There's more.

When we look at the events of what was done for our salvation, we see something amazing!  Yes, the sacrifice was for all who would accept the gift.  But Jesus came as one man -- not a group.  The sacrifice was as an individual, for each individual.  If either you or I were the only person in existence, God still would have done the same thing.  I don't pretend to be spiritually intelligent enough to comprehend how the Cross could cover all of us and me as an individual at the same time.  But God is omnipotent, so it is possible.

What we see is a God who loves us, despite our lack of love for Him.  We see an angry fallen angel whose own rejection of God caused him to be rejected by God.  That anger by Satan spilled over onto us, trying to take us all to Hell with him.  Misery loves company.  He has managed to deceive some, but God made sure not all of us headed in that direction.  Jesus agreed to the Cross before we ever existed.  And He followed through with a sacrifice that was painful beyond our comprehension on every level.

1 John 4:19 (KJV)  We love him, because he first loved us.

With the the kind of love the puts others before Himself, using His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence for our benefit and to His own detriment, God demonstrated a love beyond anything we could experience from anyone else, including ourselves.  Unless we're spiritually challenged, that has to create some questions.

If someone is willing to go to those lengths for us, how can we not love back?  And, if someone would go to such self-sacrificing extremes for us, how can we not be changed by it?  If you once committed to God, then strayed, ask Him to show Himself through your spiritual darkness, so that He can gently draw you back.  If you've never committed to God, ask Him to make Himself real to you and wash away the spiritual darkness.  And, if you already have a relationship with God, He can always take that to a whole new level.  Are you ready to be loved in the extreme?

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