Yesterday I attended the local Brethren in Christ church with one of the core members (adults with developmental disabilities) in my house. As we were leaving the church, Greg asked me this very important question which still has my head reeling. He said to me, “Today I learned about God. God loves us. WHY does God love us?”
How can I even begin to understand God’s love for us? It’s so impossible. So huge. So far beyond my comprehension. Here I have spent my entire life in Christian spheres – I was brought up in the church, I went to a Christian elementary school, followed by a Mennonite high school, followed by Tyndale – a hardcore Christian university where I studied Religious Education, followed by AMBS where I went to seminary, and now I have landed myself at L’Arche a Catholic organization with spirituality at the heart of everything we do. It seems that if anyone should know how to answer that question it should be me, and yet, when Greg looked me right in the eyes and asked me it rendered me speechless.
There is so much out there about why God allows bad things to happen to good people and that’s a topic I have struggled with myself on and off for many years. I have read a lot of apologetic literature and hashed out some of my deepest questions about the Christian faith with my Tyndale buds who never judge me for saying what I think about the Scriptures. I can explain to you the concepts of predestination, eschatology, and ecclesiology, and yet, when it comes to the basis of Theology I don’t even know what to say. How do I go about answering this question?
I know that God’s love is magnified through His Word which tells us that He loved the world so much that He allowed His only Son to die the most horrible death for our sins so that we could be set free… but why does God love us in the first place?
I believe that God loves us because He created us and He takes pride in His work. We know from the Genesis creation account that every step of the way God said that what He did was good. Yet, it wasn’t until He created human beings – man and woman – that He was finally content enough to rest. God takes great delight in us! He took great care in creating each one of us as a unique being. How awesome it is to think that there are over 6 billion people in this world and yet there will never be another you. No one has existed before and no one will exist after you who will look, talk, act, and think the exact same way as you do. No one else in this world will accomplish the EXACT same purpose that God has destined for you to do. Sure, there may be many preachers, evangelists, missionaries, or teachers who have gone before you and done incredible things. And yes, there will be many more doctors, lawyers, and police officers who come after you who will do incredible things, but you and ONLY you will be able to accomplish the unique plan that God has destined for only YOU to do. That’s why God loves us. God is our parent – He’s our Heavenly Father and Supreme Mother. He tells us in the book of Isaiah that even if a mother could forget her baby that He could never forget us (Is. 49:15). We are so precious to Him that He has our names engraved into the palm of His hand so it’s impossible for Him not to think about us daily.
God loves us even when we don’t love Him and even when we mess up and turn in the other direction. God cares about us even when we don’t give Him the time of the day. That’s because God’s love is not forced. God could have created us to be programmable – as if we were robots who were told to love and serve Him, but that’s not real love. Real love is not forced or coerced and there is no fear in love because perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
God is the great mastermind behind us. In the simplest form, He is like the kid who comes home with macaroni glued to a sheet of paper and delights in his mother’s attention towards it. Except that we are worth so much more than that to God. God loves us because God is love. It is impossible for God, in His nature, to not show love because He cannot separate it from Himself. It’s impossible for me not to be Deborah. I can change many things about myself if I chose to, but in the end of the day I would still be Deborah. And in the end of the day God is still love.
In 2 Timothy 2:11- 13 we are given this incredible promise: Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
So that’s why God loves us. His only desire is that we love Him back. He is the enamored lover who continues to woo us in any possible way to come to Him. He is the pursuer. He is the romancer and He is the one who wants to not only date us but to spend the rest of His life with us. All we need to do is accept His proposal and come into Him.