Tuesday, 30 December 2014
WHERE IS THE GOD OF LOVE?
- Immanuel is the clear and final answer!
Where is the God of love? Numerous people have been asking this question, most of them not arriving at a satisfying answer. This question (sometimes rather an accusation) is fueled by countless experiences – the trenches of World War I, the death camps of World War II ... Auschwitz, Buchenwald... images of horror throughout history... and the past year has made its own contribution to violence, sorrow, mystery, disaster and injustice... Syria, ISIS, Ebola, Ukraine, Air Malaysia, Air Asia, Gaza, the tragic massacre in Peshawar, just to name a few. But it is not only about things in far away or violent places, it is everywhere... sin, broken marriages, abused children, poverty, illness, death... And you are wrestling with this in your heart, “Where is the God of love?” WHERE IS HE? DOES HE SEE, HEAR, UNDERSTAND? DOES HE CARE?
Fortunately we don’t have to look at philosophers, extremists, agnostics or atheists for an answer!
The final and comprehensive answer had been given to us, long ago in the incarnation of Jesus. The Son of God became flesh, human! Listen to the Gospel of Matthew.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." (NIV)
By becoming flesh in Jesus, God Himself came to us, to be with us in this world of misery and sin. It is the ultimate expression of divine love. God made Himself weak, so to speak to enter our world and our very existence! God is not a far away onlooker, very closely involved.
Jesus, becoming human was a historical act with enormous and far reaching consequences. Who could fathom the depth and realise the value of this self sacrificing love of God through Jesus? The apostle Paul, in encouraging Christians to care for one another describes the love of God through Christ in this way in Philippians 2 : “5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!” (NIV)
So once again, where is the God of love? Well, just look at Jesus… He is the love of God in substance and action…
See the God of love as the baby Jesus, weak and dependent as all other infants is placed in a manger.
See the God of love as Jesus, the sinless Son of God, stands in a queue next to sinners of all kinds waiting to be baptized by John in the river Jordan.
See the God of love as Jesus calls the corrupt and greedy Zacchaeus from the fig tree and saves him from sin to become a man with a new vision for his life. (Luke 19)
See the God of love when Jesus addresses the sobbing sinful woman at His feet with the words, "Your sins are forgiven." (Luke 7:48)
See the God of love at the grave of Lazarus when Jesus weeps for his friend. (John 11)
See the God of love on the hill Golgotha where Jesus is hanging between heaven and earth on the cross, bleeding, mocked, despised, rejected, becoming a curse for us so that we can be blessed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:14) Oh, friends, the cross as the ultimate consequence of Jesus being Immanuel (God with us) is the irrefutable proof of God’s love for people like us in this broken world!
But His love didn’t end there…
See the God of love when Jesus after His resurrection calms the fears of His disciples, "Peace be with you!" (John 20:26)
See the God of love when Jesus (at the end of the Gospel of Matthew) encourages His disciples (and followers through all ages) with the command and promise, “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28 NIV) He is still with us! With every believer…
God’s love doesn’t mean that we as His children are not going to experience rejection, persecution, trials, illness or death, but that He will be with us during our journey on earth, leading us faithfully into His everlasting Kingdom!
See the God of love as Christian witnesses, missionaries and martyrs through the ages continue to display this love in the most horrible situations. We have recently seen the examples of Pierre Korkie who was murdered by the hands of al-Qaeda militants in Yemen and the Groenewalds killed by the Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan!
God is with us! He stands with us as broken people in a broken world. His love is a nearby love. His love endures forever!
Therefore we will see and realise the love of God perfectly and finally when Jesus comes again to make everything new! Only then will injustice, miseries, disasters and sorrows come to an end!
Jesus Himself is the evidence, even more the very embodiment of God’s love! And the precious truth is that nothing can separate the child of God from this love! The confidence and trust of Paul should be part of every Christian’s belief and confession, “38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8 NIV)
Are you still looking for the God of love? You don’t need to go far. God’s love is Jesus Himself, given to us. Remember again, Jesus is – GOD WITH US. And when you bow before Him and put your trust in Him, you will find, He is “GOD WITH ME” in all circumstances, even unto death!
The big question, my friend is not, “Where is the God of love?”, the puzzling question is, “Why have you rejected the God of love in Jesus until now?” I hope this is not true of you… and if it is, well, today is still an opportunity to accept the love of God...