Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Don't Try to Goozle God's Gizzards

To my attention recently came an expression I had never heard before: thank you for loving us when we had no claim upon you. I found this deeply touching. And it really struck me, because of course, if someone does something for me because I have a claim on him, that isn’t really love, is it? It’s obligation. Love is something we give in freedom; it is an expression of our innermost spirit.

And it has gotten me thinking about the way God loves us: without our having any claim upon His love, “while we were yet sinners.” Some people tell us, in effect, that Jesus Christ established such a claim on our behalf; but to say this not only grossly underestimates God’s love for us, but also tragically misunderstands what love even is. Love is a gift. And giving it is any true lover’s greatest joy. We rob him of that joy as soon as we think to demand or earn or buy his gift. We insult God's magnanimity if we suppose His love to be something we (or Christ for us) need secure. God doesn’t need to be pinned to the ground and made to cry uncle. He doesn't need to be compelled or manoeuvered or outflanked so as to love us. There is no such thing as needing to find a way that will either force or allow God to love us. And we should not need there to be any sort of contract with God before we can trust His Love.

God has no other agenda with respect to us than to love and save and glorify us. The very idea is absurd; for if love is free and unconditional and sacrificial self-giving, then any other agenda by definition would have to be self-serving. There just is not a whiff of self-serving about our all-good, man-loving God. There simply is not anything else whatsoever that God has to juggle with His Love. He is pure, undiluted, unmixed, full-strength Love. And nothing else.

Amazingly enough, to love us was always what He both wanted to do, and always, unfailingly, did. If you haven’t done so already, check out Matthew Gallatin’s latest two podcasts on how even those superficially appalling Old Testament stories of violence and death are properly to be interpreted as God’s love at work. It's a question most of us have wondered about. The podcast before those latest two presents us a similar way of interpreting some of God's tough words (as distinct from acts) in the Old Testament.

See what a righteous and holy and glorious God we have, Who invariably deals with every one of His creatures with infinite, pro-active, mightiest, tenderest love!