Who likes to hear that God loves them? Pretty much everybody – including those who don’t even believe in God.
In fact, the love of God is probably the best known and least understood characteristic of all God’s characteristics that we have covered in the series, “God Is…”. And that’s saying something, especially coming off of two messages on the Trinity.
There are a ton of Bible passages that we could look at in order to grasp a greater understanding of God’s love.
There is the verse, for example, that flat out says, “God is love”. (1 John 4:8)
There is the time tested and well travelled section in Romans 8 that describes God’s love in beautiful detail:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
This one is easily recited but rarely contemplated:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Then there is…
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)
One of my favorites:
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)
Before moving on I would like to ask you a question:
Did you actually read and think about the verses cited above?
No doubt many of you reading this know them well – perhaps by heart. It would be easy, therefore, to quickly skate over them – give them a quick glance and check them off as “known passages”. You may know them, but when was the last time you actually thought IN them?
Just so you know, the passages above will not be addressed this Sunday so, please, enjoy them now. Step into them. Read/recite them with your life in mind. Place your worries, anxieties, weaknesses and sins between their lines. Think of each verse as a crystal clear swimming pool on a hot Sacramento day and dive in. Make the above passages the last thought you have before you fall asleep and the first thought you have before your feet hit the floor the next morning. If they’re not memorized then make it your goal to have them etched in your mind before Monday (Please note that I didn’t say which Monday☺).
Rather than cover the hundreds of passages that affirm God’s love, I thought that we would cover a story in the Bible that describes God’s love – the story of Jonah. Jonah’s story is one that has layers of meaning – each layer describing an aspect of God’s love.
Would you read through the short Book of Jonah a couple of times before Sunday? We will focus in on chapter four but it would be great if you could reacquaint yourself with the entire story before we take on the apparent difficulty in the final chapter.
Looking forward to seeing you there.