Love's Most Amazing Story

K


arl Barth, famous though controversial, contemporary Swiss theologian, was a great thinker, a prolific writer, and a professor at several European universities.

On one occasion he was confronted by a reporter who wanted a brief summary of his twelve thick volumes on church dogmatics. Barth could have given an impressive intellectual reply, but didn't. Quoting from the popular child's hymn, he simply said, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

And there is no greater proof of this love than when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave his life for us.

It was Jesus who said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."1 His own love, however, went much further than this. He laid down his life for his enemies as well as his friends.

Imagine the torturous agony Christ must have endured when nailed to the cross. This was the price he paid to die for our sins. Added to his physical suffering was his sense of utter rejection by being forsaken, not only by his few remaining friends, but also by God. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus cried out in utter despair from the cross.2 

God's love for us is never based
on what we do – good or bad.

But so great was his love even for those who caused his excruciating pain—those who nailed him to the cross, thrust a spear into his side, mocked him, spat in his face—that in the midst of this inhuman torture he prayed, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."3

Referring to this prayer, Thomas Carlyle said, "The sublimed words that ever fell from human lips."

Human love is often conditional. If we are what others want us to be and do what they want us to do we are loved. If not, we are often rejected. Fortunately, God's love is never conditional. It is never based on who we are or what we do—good or bad. He loves us simply because we are his creation.

If God loves us unconditionally, why is he so vehemently opposed to our sin? Because sin is so completely destructive of human personality. It totally destroys what God loves—us. Nevertheless, God still loves the sinner. That's why he gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. And now, through Christ's death God can save us from our self-destructive sin.

Sometimes we view God as a hard taskmaster running around with a "big stick" waiting to rap us on the knuckles if we break his commandments. In fact, one person I knew felt that if he committed certain sins, God would actually kill him.

This false view of God is usually formed in childhood. If, for example, we had a very punitive earthy father or mother, we tend to feel that God, the Heavenly Father, is exactly the same. But God isn't like that at all. In fact, we can totally ignore or reject him, and he will still keep loving us.

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