Song after song spoke of how God loves us anyway in spite of our sin. How God's love lifts me up when I am down. How God's love catches me when I fall. How God's love carries me when I am weak...
Don't get me wrong, God's love is an absolutely wonderful thing! It is beyond comprehension and I am ever grateful for it. And while I noted the recurring theme of the songs, I sang right along with most of them.
Yet, how many realize that God's love is not the problem with mankind? The issue is not whether God loves us, but whether we love Him.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:16-19
We can sing about and bask in the fact that God loves us, but if we in turn never love Him then we will still be damned to Hell.
Some might say, "Oh, here they go again." However, I am serious. So many times, when people are doing what they know they should not or when they have become complacent in their walk with God, they start speaking of how God loves them. Yet, does God love those He sends to Hell?
If you answer, "Yes", then God's love alone will not keep you from Hell unless you respond to that love.
If you answer, "No", then there must be some criteria or condition to receiving God's love and it would behoove us to understand what that is.
The point of this post is not to get into some theological or philisophical debate. It is to remind us that God has already proven His love for all mankind by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die as a payment for our sins so that we could be reconciled to Him and experience His love in our lives.
However, He also has the expectation that we will respond to His love as demonstrated by obedience to His words (John 14:15-23, 15:10; I John 2:5, 5:2-3).
In an effort to prove that God gives us eternal, unconditional security, a Christian once asked me, "Name just one thing in the New Testament that God says obedience is a requirement to receive?" So, I pointed Him to Acts 5:32:
"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him."
I also pointed out that only those led by the Spirit of God are the Sons of God (Romans 8:14).
An atheist once asked me, "How can a loving God send people to Hell?" And I stated, "Because after all of His wooing and warning, He loves you enough to give you exactly what you insist upon having: an eternity apart from Him."
God's love is not a protection against Him being a Just & Righteous Judge when we stand before Him, giving an accounting of our lives. The next time you contemplate the greatness of God's love for us, consider as well your love for Him.
Are you able to confess to Him with a pure heart that you love Him or have you in all honesty departed from your first love due to the cares of this life (Revelation 2:4)? I am not speaking of being without sin or even no longer struggling against sin. I am asking are you seeking to have your consciences purged so that you can stand before Him in sincerity (Hebrews 10:2)?
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." I John 3:18-24
How can we assure our hearts before God? How can we know that we are of the truth? It is not with our many words and verbal professions. It is by being sincere with God (Psalm 51:6). "Is there anything in my life displeasing to God? Any part of my life I am trying to keep from Him? Any area that I know He has out His finger on, but that I have not yet submitted to Him?"
sincere: free of deceit, hypocrisy, or falseness; earnest: genuine; real:pure; unmixed; unadulterated; frank, candid, honest, open, guileless; unaffected.
Every day God gives us is an opportunity to grow in Him and love Him more. Don't take it for granted or let it pass idly by. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Let's be real with God. If we truly love Him, then we will seek to obey Him and not find excuses about why we have not done so.
I pray that God gives us an appreciation for His love that is coupled with proper reverence of Him. While glorying in His love, let's also understand the transformative work His love aims to accomplish in our lives by making us reflections of that love in a dying world.
"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." II Corinthians 5:14-15