God Really Loves You

 One of the most famous and often quoted scriptures of the Bible is John 3:16, ďFor God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.Ē  At the root of this verse is the very essence of who God is and why His power is so great.  The ever-living God is a God of love.

 I John 4:8, 16 state that God is love, but what does that really mean?  Is God simply a feeling or an emotion, or a way to describe or personify peopleís good actions toward each other?  No.  The Bible clearly reveals the existence of a personal God and that He lives in perfect love, without fear, with selfishness, but with concern for others.

The Bible shows that God had a plan from the beginning to make man in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27).  God desires to bring many sons to glory, to share His immortality and incorruptibility with others (Romans 8:14-30; I Corinthians 15:1-58, Hebrews 2:9-15).  He desires to share love and life and liberty.  When you love as God does, you want to share all the good things of life with others.  But for God to share, He had to create others.  Just as humans expand their life by having children, so is God expanding His family by having children, sons and daughters of God who will live forever.

 As the Creator, God had the right to set up the rules for His creation.  And you are a part of His creation.  He made you and gave you life.  In addition, He gave you free will, the right to choose.  Love can only truly be seen in a person when he has the power and freedom to choose whether or not to love.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chose to disobey Godís instructions and to take of the tree He commanded them not to take.  They did not love His instruction; they broke the understood trust between a Creator and His creation.

 As a result, man was sent out of the Garden of Eden and was cursed.  Every time you see a weed growing in your garden or you hear of a terribly painful labor in childbirth, you should remember that these were part of the curses man reaped when he decided to disobey his Creator.  God gives us the right to choose, but we must also understand that there are consequences to every choice we make.  Your parents told you to stay out of the street, to not just run into the street without looking.  You could run into the street, you have that choice, but if you do, you may get hit by a car.

 God can give you the freedom to choose, but He doesnít give you freedom from the consequences of your actions.  You can choose to do big things or little things in life.  Itís your choice.  You can choose to walk in Godís ways or not.  Itís your choice.  But what you reap in life will be a result of your choices.  You canít plant tomato seeds and hope for peppers.  If you plant tomato seeds, youíll get tomato plants.  What you sow you will reap.

 Unfortunately, what began with Adam and Eve continues to this day.  All men and women who have ever lived have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:20).  Because all have sown sin, all have reaped the fruit of sin, which is death.  Death has reigned from Adam until now (Romans 5:12-19).  Death is the ultimate curse reaped in the Garden of Eden all those years ago.  Sin brings forth death.  One assurance you have in life is that you will die.  There is no way around it.

As God surveyed His creation and looked at all the disobedience, He certainly could have destroyed it all and started over.  But God didnít do that.  Part of the very awesome nature of God and His love is the desire to save rather than to destroy, the desire to demonstrate mercy instead of judgment.

 The judgment of sin is assured by God.  The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23).  However, God does not want you to die.  He wants you to live and have life and know the blessings of living by the law of love.  When we live by the law of love, which is the essence of all the instruction in the Bible, then we see that the way to have abundant life is not by being selfish and simply trying to please the self, but rather by serving God and others.  Serving others, laying down our interests for others, is actually the way to produce peace, happiness and joy.

 Many think they will be happy by serving themselves, by giving themselves whatever they want.  We have a world in which men and women run after all kinds of vices to satisfy the self, finding that, in the end, they are not satisfied by it and often only become more miserable.

 You become happy by laying down your life to serve others.  This is the essence of love.  The truly best way to serve yourself is by serving others.  This was the demonstration God made for us while we were sinners.

 God gave His beloved Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to pay for our sins.  While we were enemies to God, we rebelled against His instructions, lived in sin and ignored what he taught us in His Word and by His Spirit.  Yet, He gave His obedient and perfect Son as a sacrifice for us.  Jesus was sacrificed to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind.

 When we really stop to think about it, it doesnít make much sense.  First, why would God give a good sonís life to pay for those who really donít listen and follow His wise instructions?  Second, why would Jesus do this?

 In some small way, this would be like a father looking at his two sons.  One was wise and followed his fatherís instructions.  He always looked out for his brother, he told the truth and was always willing to share what he had.  The other son, however, looked out mostly for himself.  When he didnít get what he wanted, he was quick to yell or curse or hit the other.  It was common for him to lie when convenient and although he tried to be good, he usually gave up his principles when he didnít see their immediate benefit.

 The father, however, didnít want to lose either of his sons.  He turns to the good son and says, ďI love you so much.  You are my dear son who has life, but I am concerned about your brother who causes only pain and suffering to others when he thinks he can benefit.  Will you pay the price for the life of your brother?Ē  ďMy hopeĒ, he says, ďis that by showing such love, your brother will respond to your goodness by turning from his bad ways and loving us as a good son and brother should.Ē

 The good son says, ďYes, father, I will do this so your joy and my joy can be complete, that we can gain back your son and my brother.Ē  And so the good son takes upon himself all the evil of the other brother and takes all the punishment for his wrongs even though he didnít commit a single one of them.  He did nothing wrong, but he made himself guilty so he could bear the punishment in order to save the other brother.

 God sent Jesus Christ to pay the price of death for your sins.  You and I have committed sins.  The guilt of sin rests on us.  But Jesus says, I gave up being equal with God to come to earth as a man so that I could die in your place.  God sent me because He wants to save you.  I laid down my life because I want to save you and see you have eternal life with our family.  Will you accept what I have done?  Will you turn from your sins and selfishness to walk in the way of love?

 As long as we live in a society where men war and steal, lie and cheat, murder and rape to get what they want, we will have no peace.  But if you will join the family of God and begin loving God with all your heart, soul and mind and loving your neighbor as yourself, we can have a society free from evil, pain and death.  Just think, no more oppression, no more torture, no more hunger, no more death.  This is what God wants for you and the whole earth.

 However, the hope of having eternal life and being part of a society of peace begins with your acceptance of Jesusí sacrifice.  You must believe in Jesusí sacrifice and resurrection and you must take part in it with Him.  You must die to yourself, to satisfying your own selfish desires in order that you may live a new life where you serve others as Jesus did and does still today.  The Bible tells us how, but we must begin by accepting His sacrifice for our sins.

 God loves you so much that He gave Jesus, His beloved Son, to die for you.  Will you accept this salvation?  Will you accept the role of becoming a child of God who lives by love for God and for others?  This is the calling in Jesus Christ.  This call goes to you.  Accept Jesusí sacrifice and teachings so you can live.  The choice is yours.

- Written by David Liesenfelt  Copyright © 2004