Wednesday, January 25, 2012

God Loves You - Period

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. – Matthew 5: 43-48

Outside of Orthodox Christianity, one often hears of a god whose attitude toward sinner changes once they repent. But such a heterodox idea flies straight n the face of everything Jesus said and did and taught. God's attitude toward each and every person (yes, even Saddam Hussein) is ever unchanging. How can the All-Good One, the All-Holy, love us who are so, well, so the opposite, so vile and so sick and so warped? He can and He does because that's the very meaning of Goodness and of Holiness: Love. That's what, rightly understood, the Law and the Prophets are all about: Love. That's the basis of morality: Love.

Even the tax-collectors (read, "worst sinners you can imagine"), says Jesus, greet those who greet them, and love their brethren. We should be better than that. Do we really want to suppose God isn't? But the very reason we ought to be better than that, says Jesus, is that God is, and we also ought to be, precisely so we can be like Him, as true children.

God in heaven is perfect, meanng His love is perfect. There is absolutely nobody God loves more than He loves you and me, because there is no "more" nor "less" in God's immeasurable love. That means He loves you as much as He loves, say, the Virgin Mary, and He loves such a villain as Osama Bin Laden as much as He loves you. (Sorry about that!, and sorry, dear government monitors, to be wasting your time here.)  God loves you no matter what.  No matter what!

God's relationship with each person is different, because each person is different.  And of course any relationship is reciprocal, a two-way street.  How He acts and interacts with each of us differs.  God has a different relationship with St. Mark than with St. Luke, and with St. Luke than with you, and with you than with me.   (The difference is possible because it isn't His unchanging Essence dealing with us, it's His Uncreated Powers.)  But no matter what that relationship is, it always proceeds, from God's end, from perfect love.  God's love is absolute, not relative.  Absolute, not contingent.  Perfect, not conditional.  He makes the blessing of His rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike and His sun to shine on the evil and the good alike. 

Yes, He is "angry" at the injustice in this world and the sin and suffering and sickness and death and every sort of evil, but that's precisely because He loves you and doesn't want you to be harmed by any of those things.  He recognizes that every time you sin, you are not just a perpetrator, you are also, and more fundamentally, a victim of satan's.  In the account of the first sin, Eve is deceived by the serpent.  And we have been deceived ever since.  And the idea that God's love toward us ever fluctuates or is tempered or diluted or spoiled by anything else is one of those deceptions. 

God's love is infinite.  Unchanging.  Universal.  Unconditional.  Absolute.  Indestructible.  Stronger than death, more ferocious than hell, more tender than a mother's embrace.

Ponder well another saying of our Lord's:

But you, love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind to the unthankful and [to] the evil. – Luke 6:35


GretchenJoanna said...

This post makes for a sustaining meditation. Glory to our glorious and loving God!