Sunday, 12 December 2010

He loves me, He loves me not?

I want to follow up on a similar theme from the last post about the issue of the love of God.  We saw that the love of God and the wrath of God weren't opposite, but what about the love of God and the hatred of God - surely they are opposite, are they not?

It is one of the most well known verses in the Bible, and for good reason, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3 v 16).  What is perhaps not so well known is that there are verses that talk about God's hatred for sinners, e.g. Psalm 5 v 5 tells us that God hates all workers of iniquity.  It's not saying that He merely hates the iniquity, but, to be fair to the Bible, it says He hates the people.

How can we understand the seeming contradiction?  The answer lies in establishing what the Bible means when it talks about love.

The Bible commands us to love others, and even love our enemies.  Now what does that mean?  Does that mean that we have to have warm and fluffy feelings towards people we don't know or don't like?  Does it mean we have to make ourselves feel excited about seeing people who harm us?  No!  In Scripture, the love that is commanded is a love that determines to do good to people no matter how they've treated us, and no matter how they respond. 

It is in that way that God loves those whom He hates.  When the Bible talks about God's love it isn't talking about His emotional response to us.  It's not saying that God feels warm thoughts when He looks at us, or that He is drawn to us because of who and what we are.  This is not the case at all.  God's love isn't emotional, it's volitional; it's not sentimental, it's sacrificial.  Emotionally, as God looks at us rebelling against Him, it isn't feelings of love that are drawn out, but feelings of hatred.  However, despite that, He chose to do us good even at infinite cost to Himself - He gave His Son to provide salvation for us by His death on the cross - and thus He loved us.

God's love reaches out to you - it's not based on your performance, dependent on your goodness, or because of your efforts.  The cause of His love is not in us, it's in Him.  In love He gave His Son, and in love He offers you forgiveness and reconciliation.  The offer is made irrespective of your response, but the offer will only be made good to you if you humble your heart, admit your guilt, and receive His Son as Saviour.