Yes. God actually loves you.
What I find the most interesting, is how much we don't believe this simple statement.
We have this way of thinking that God’s love is predicated on what we do.
That somehow, God ONLY likes us if we are our best.
That somehow, God ONLY loves us if we do ‘right’ all the time.
And if we do bad, then he stops loving us.
If we do wrong, he can’t love us.
Where did we get this idea?
One person added to the conversation on Sunday that the worst thing is when you were a child and your parents would give you the silent treatment. They were so disappointed in your actions that they stopped communicating. Someone mentioned they think God is like this too sometimes, that there isn’t literal communication from His end.
Does that resonate with anyone?
But here is the thing, God is not emotionally insecure or immature. He is fully able to handle when you make mistakes and always communicates with us whether we are good or bad. So let’s just get that out of the way. Giving someone the silent treatment to me (coming from my own struggles with this) is emotionally immature and is a failure to communicate. If you need space to think about something or if another person has hurt you; just say that! Silent treatment is not a great way to communicate your pain or frustration and only leads to more rejection and hurt.
Has God been silent before? Yes, but not like that.
There are basically 3 ways I think God communicates (these are in no specific order);
Interpersonally (gut, intuition, dialogue)
Some people have honed in on internally hearing/communicating with God that others don't get as clear. Just as we are all different and have different abilities, so too I think this is one of those things that some just are good at. It can be worked on, but that takes discipline and work :)
God uses scripture to often speak to us. Sometimes, its a verse in our minds. Sometimes its randomly opening the bible to a passage that speaks to us. Either way, it is a good thing to read!
Lastly, community. God uses the people in our lives to speak to us. Often confirming what we are thinking or helping to make decisions.
So where has God been silent? There is a period where the old testament bridges into the new. A span of hundreds of years where we have no writing, no real prophets and not much material on God speaking. People have called this the ‘silent years’. The truth is though, God never stopped speaking. He has always been speaking to people, his word and community. I think too we all have an internal dialogue that we either choose to listen to or not. To quote Moana, “nothing can quiet that little voice inside”
But is God silent when we do things we know we shouldn’t?
Does he love us less?
There is a passage that says, “…God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (romans 5:8) In other words, God showed his love for us, whether we believed in Him or not. He has poured out his love on us, whether we go his way or not.
Why? Because that is love.
We all have this concept of love that is predicated on someone loving us back. I will love my spouse as long as they don't make mistakes! I will love my spouse until they....
This is conditional love. We put conditions on the love we give out. God does not.
He loves us whether we do good or bad.
He loves us enough to allow us to make mistakes and fall down.
He loves us enough to tell us his way (the better one) and when we don’t and get hurt; he still loves us.
God’s love for us is not based on our performance, it is there for us always.
So can I do whatever I want and God will forgive me?
That is the common question I get. And the truth is, that is a terrible relationship. You want to get married and then cheat all you want and expect that marriage to be a good one? No. Will she stay with you? Maybe. But the health of you, your marriage and your word (you made commitments before god, family and friends to love each other till death) mean nothing. That is truly an empty life and reveals how broken our heart actually is.
If I ask the question, what is really cheating on my wife? Like is kissing another person? Or flirting with someone? What does that say about me? It says, I am not fully committed to the relationship I am in because I want to get my own way.
Now, I realize that this is not a perfect scene for all of us, but it illustrates something; sometimes we want to get our own way and we think we know better than God. Yet, God loves us anyway. Yes. He is the wife who loves her husband and tries anything and everything to get him to love her back. He is the husband who pleads with his wife to stay home with the family instead of having yet another affair. He is the one always looking to reconcile not just forgive. God is forgiving us before we even realize we need forgiveness. He is that good. He loves that much.
Sometimes, God loves us enough to give us consequences for our actions knowing we will be mad at him for it. His hope is that by getting what you deserve you will realize your error and return to making good choices (repent?) There is so much more to unpack there but we will have to save that for another blog post :)
Do you think you have a healthy view of God’s love?
How would you live differently, knowing that God truly loves you no matter what?
How do we show that love to others?
… the story continues.
This week, we will dialogue about motive + method. A teaching from the meeting house and how to love our enemies. Should be a fun one!