If you remember, I've been thinking a lot about God's love since arriving here in Spain a little over a year ago (see this post). And little by little, He has been revealing how much He really does love me. This has caused me to change not only how I interact with people, but also how I interact with God Himself. The result--healing in relationships that needed it, deeper intimacy in my fellowship with God, and realizing that even while I'm trying to love people I often have wrong motives. This has made me ask myself what is so special or different about God's love?
I'm beginning to think that the answer is in its simplicity. God loves us. Period. There is no "God loves me because...", or, "God loves me so that I...". He just loves us. Now, I know that it is a little more complicated than this, but bear with me. I'm trying to make a point, not make it look like we are more important and the center of God's universe. God is the center of God's universe, and rightly so--He is the only one of His kind (obviously), and the only one worthy of receiving all of the glory, honor, and praise. He has saved us for "...the praise of HIS glorious grace" (Eph 1:6), and we are just a part of His plan to "...unite all things in HIM, things in heaven and things on earth." (Eph 1:10)
So, back to the subject at hand, the simplicity of God's love. What do I mean by simplicity? I mean that God's love is not tainted by any other motivation than love itself. As I have been learning about God's love, I have necessarily been moved to try and grow in my love toward others. But recently I've noticed that almost all of the time I have some reason why I'm loving whoever it is that I'm trying to love. If it is someone who bugs me, I say to myself, "Self, God wants you to love this person even though they are doing X that bothers you. So, the best way to get this person to change and modify their behavior to make me happy is to love them." I "love" them, and curiously, much of the time they don't change. Is this how God loves me? Is He only interested in manipulating me into obedience?
I think not. Enter Psalm 103.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
God doesn't treat us the way we deserve. In fact, if we are covered by Christ's righteousness, He forgets our sins, He removes them from us. He doesn't look at us the way we actually are, but the way we should be. I try to do this as well, but in my human mind it usually is a matter of potential. I look at someone's sin and say, "I'm not going to treat you according to your sin. I see your potential for good and am willing to do whatever it takes, even hurt you, to help you grow." It sounds noble and good, right? But I don't think it is. God doesn't look at us like a public service project. He isn't a social worker. Yes, He sees our sin, and yes, He wants it to go away, but that doesn't change how He loves us. "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him."
We are His children and He knows we are weak and fail often. But he still loves us. "He remembers that we are dust." I'm trying to learn to not view people as projects, even as I look at my own life. Especially as I look at my own life. If by some miracle I am becoming more holy, even though God is just loving me as I am, maybe I should be able to trust Him to do the same with others. I don't need to fix them--just love them. God can do the fixing His way. I'm just trying to learn to imitate Him.
Now for the hard part: putting the theory into practice.
God help me, please.