The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Is God’s Love For You Personal Or Professional?

Posted on: August 22, 2017

DOES GOD LOVE YOU MERELY BECAUSE YOU’RE A HUMAN (PROFESSIONAL), OR BECAUSE YOU ARE “YOU” (PERSONAL)?

Many years ago when I first became a Christian, I struggled with being able to believe that God loved me. When I looked at all my shortcomings, my inadequacies, and my behavior, it was difficult for me to believe that someone could know all of that and still love me.

I couldn’t escape the feeling that if I had been a car, I would be recalled; if I were a fish, I would be thrown back.

I read the verses in the Bible that talked about God’s love, but I filtered those verses through my own presuppositions, concluding that they didn’t fully apply to me. I wondered if I would have to get into heaven on some kind of an exception clause.

I had no difficulty believing that God loved others… I just had difficulty believing that he loved me. I had this idea that when I got to heaven, God would be standing there sighing with exasperation, his arms folded, foot tapping, and he would say, “Well, I probably really shouldn’t let you in, but… come on in and see that you do better!” And he would let me into heaven, perhaps against His better judgment.

So over the years, I have had to cultivate the concept that God loves me. Here are four steps I have taken that have convinced me that God loves me.

  1. God is love

The primary personal attribute of God is that He is “love.”

While it’s true that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, if he were only those three things, He might be an all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present celestial machine… like some supercomputer.

But that is not what God is like. Over those and all his other characteristics, is the umbrella of His love. 1 John 4:8 says, “… God is love.” So I conclude from that that love is the motivating attribute of everything God does. “Love” is what He does.

That was a helpful start, but I wondered how that love might come down to me.

  1. God loves the world

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish, but have eternal life.”

I concluded that I was part of the world, so God must love me, at least in a philosophical sense. But I was a little unsettled that this might not include loving me personally, individually, for who I am.

For example, after a politician wins a smashing political victory, he/she meets with their closest supporters after the polls have closed to declare victory. The politician says, “This is a victory for all of us. This could not have happened without you! I love you all!”

And while the politician might “love” everyone there in a philosophical sense, on a personal level, he doesn’t even know every single individual in the room. Was that how God loved me?

Then, I took the next step, to see how God viewed me as an individual.

  1. God’s love for me is personal

In Luke chapter 15, Jesus tells the parable of a shepherd who has 100 sheep. He discovers that one of them is missing, so he leaves the 99 and goes searching for the missing sheep until he finds it. Then, when he does find it, he doesn’t just haul it back to the rest of the flock. Rather, he puts it on his shoulders, carries it home, and throws a party.

Then Jesus said, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

So from that, I concluded two monumental things. First, I concluded that if no one else on earth had ever sinned, and I was the first and only one who sinned, Jesus would have died for me… the one lost sheep. Mercy! What a thought! That tells me that my sin put Jesus on the cross, regardless of your sin. And it tells me the lengths to which God was prepared to go to demonstrate His love for me, the individual.

This thought is bolstered by Romans 5:8 which says, “but God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

The second thing I concluded from that parable was that He cared about me personally… individually. I concluded that I mattered to Jesus as an individual, not just as a member of a larger group that he cared about.

  1. God’s love for me is heartfelt

When Jesus finished the parable of the lost sheep, He said that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents…”  So, His love for me is heartfelt.  He felt “joy” over my having been “found.”

Also, in Psalm 103:13-14, we read, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He, Himself, knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

Well, I fear Him, so He has compassion on me, taking into account my weaknesses and imperfections!

God feels joy at my having been found, and feels compassion for my weaknesses.  His love for me is heartfelt.

Wrapping it up!

So, having worked my way through those passages, from the general to the specific, I concluded that, yes, God is love. And yes, He loves the world, but that it is more than a philosophical love. It is a personal love. He loves me enough that He would search for me and find me if I were the only one who was lost, feeling joy when I am found. And His heart goes out to me in my weaknesses… He has compassion on me.

Parents have a tender love for their newborn babies. But one might ask, “What has that baby ever done to make the parent love it?” The answer: nothing! In fact, the infant may have already done some things that might – on the face of it – keep the parent from loving it: crying uncontrollably, randomly soiling its diapers, being totally self-absorbed and utterly inconsiderate of the inconvenience it was creating.

But the parent loves the infant anyway. Why? Because the love comes from the heart of the parent, not the performance of the child.

So it is with God. Love for us comes from the heart of God, not our performance.

When we begin to grasp that God loves us on a personal level (because of who we are), not merely on a professional level (because we are members of the human race), it helps us love Him more fully, more personally, in return. It deepens and strengthens our bond and ushers us into a more satisfying relationship with Him.


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