The way our culture views love is pretty interesting. Every year, there are millions of songs written about love. There is a seeming endless supply of cheesy romantic comedy movies being churned out of Hollywood that seek to demonstrate for us what true love looks like. There are scientific studies done on love. I Googled love and discovered that there is an online love calculator that will calculate the chance on a successful relationship between two people. There is a wikihow article on how to love. There is a how stuff works article that explains how love works. According to the article, love is like an addiction. This seems to validate what Huey Lewis and Robert Palmer have been saying since the 80’s.
If we aren’t careful, we will allow these cultural ideas of what love is to shape our idea of love. This is bad enough when we let these things shape our ideas of love when it comes to loving one another. However, it is tragic when the cultural ideas of love are the lens through which we read that God is love. When this happens, our idea about what it means that God loves us is going to be grossly distorted.
The tremendous depth of God’s love is beyond our understanding. As human beings, we do love, but our love is limited to certain people and to certain degrees. At some point, we are simply not willing to give any more. But God’s love is unlimited, unconditional.
I’m not sure we can properly understand the Gospel without understanding God’s love. One of the things people wonder about is if they can know for sure that God loves them. Some people have lived lives filled with sin and wonder if God can love them despite their sin.
Does God love sinners or does He only love the morally upright?
Does God love homosexuals, murders, and the sexually immoral?
Does God love Muslim, atheists, agnostics and those involved in false religious systems?
The answer is that yes God loves sinners, homosexuals, murders, Muslims, atheists, agnostics and those involved in false religious systems. God’s love for people is clearly seen in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
I’m sure we’ve all heard this before. However, I would wonder if we all really believe this. Can each one of us say with absolute certainty that we know that God loves us? While we might all answer yes, I’m sure that some secretly doubt God’s love for them for one reason or another. I also wonder if we all understand how amazing this is. Again, I’m sure if we were put on the spot we would affirm that it was amazing that God loves us.
However, there are some that have never thought about how amazing it is that God loves them because they can’t imagine any reason that God wouldn’t love them. I mean, why wouldn’t He love them? They’re Americans. They’re basically good people. They’re good enough. They’re smart enough, and doggone it people like them. What’s not to love?
One of the things I fear is people becoming so accustomed to hearing that God loves them that they miss how amazing this really is. On top of this, there is a very real pull in our day to focus on “positive” messages. We are told that we shouldn’t talk about sin or the fact that we are all sinners. Think about this for a second. Can we even appreciate how great God’s love for us is without understanding our own sinfulness? James Montgomery Boice gives two reasons why we cannot.
“First, since Paul is describing the love of God against the dark background of human sin, he is saying that it is only against this background that we are able to form a true picture of how great the love of God is. In other words, if we think (as many do) that God loves us because we are somehow quite lovely or desirable, our appreciation of the love of God will be reduced by just that amount—just as a beautiful but very vain woman might have trouble appreciating the love of her husband, or of anyone else. If we think we deserve the best of everything, we will not appreciate the love we receive irrespective of our beauty, talent, or other supposedly admirable qualities.
The second point is this: If we think we deserve God’s love, we cannot ever really be secure in it, because we will always be afraid that we may do something to lessen or destroy the depth of God’s love for us. It is only those who know that God has loved them in spite of their sin who can trust him to continue to show them favor.” I fully agree with what Boice says here. Before we can truly appreciate the greatness of God’s love, we must understand the nature of those He has chosen to love. My blog this week will focus on helping us understand and appreciate the greatness of God’s love toward us.
Read Romans 5:6-11 for further study. How are the people God loves described in verses 6-10?
What do verses 6-11 say God did for those people He loved?
What do verses 9-11 say were the results of God’s actions?
 James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary – Romans, Volume 2: The Reign of Grace (Romans 5-8)