Have you ever noticed how one-sided your relationship with God is? You would almost get the impression that it’s all about Him. I was thinking about this today and, as it turns out, it’s probably more accurate to speak of His relationship with me. Consider this:
- God took the initiative. We love because he [God] first loved us. (1 John 4:19 ESV) I wasn’t consulted, when the Lord first loved me. Nor, was I even around when He decided to embrace me (we’ll talk about that in a moment). I’m not eternal, contrary to the fantasies embraced by some religions. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58 ESV) And, I wasn’t.
- It’s one thing to say that you love someone, but it’s quite another to demonstrate your affection in tangible ways, particularly when your love interest hasn’t come into being. How did God first love you and I? He sent His Son to prove it about 2000 years ago: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV) And, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV) Later, when I came into this world and shook my fist in His face, He plowed ahead in His stubborn one-way pursuit: while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. (Romans 5:10 ESV) But, how was the death of His Son an expression of love?
- The way God loved me, through the death of Jesus, goes something like this: Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:3 ESV) This is the Gospel or good news we read so much about in the Bible and Christians talk about all the time. Here again, we see that Jesus died for my sins at a point in time before I existed and His death fulfilled a bunch of sacred writings that were handed down through generations of people, halfway around the world from my neighborhood, thousands of years ago.
- But, His love didn’t stop there because he was buried [and] raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4 ESV) In fact, Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:25 ESV) It looks like God justified me or meted out justice on His Son and removed the barrier of my sin, the thing that kept us apart, so I could enjoy His love for me. Then, He brought Jesus back to life in order for us to continue in our relationship. Two things stand out: 1) my lousy attitude toward God was transformed into a wonderful romance through something He did and not me. 2) I hate to sound like a broken record, but this all happened before the United States came into existence or gold was discovered near my town of Nevada City or Fred and Barb went out on their first date. His love interest in me goes way back.
- God knows this can be a bit confusing, so He’s given us a timeline that shows how it all happened and where our relationship is heading: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28–30 ESV) He did it all.
You and I enjoy a ton of benefits because God did things His way: He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (Ephesians 1:3–5 ESV) But, that’s enough for one post.
God is so one-sided! And, aren’t you glad? This, in a nutshell, is the Gospel or good news. The only thing we brought to the relationship, beside our sin, is this: when we heard these glad tidings, we believed the news about how much God loves us and received the gift of His Son, Jesus.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12–13 ESV)