About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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Unprecedented Love


You may find this comment strange, but the word love is one over-used and misunderstood word.  Listen to any pop song and you'll see how the world defines love.  1 Corinthians 13 provides the Biblical definition of love.  That chapter is often read at weddings but is often  forgotten about once the wedding is over.  I won't comment on 1 Corinthians 13.  I will attempt to show you a bit of how God Almighty demonstrates love instead. 


The world tells us that we can't love others until we love ourselves first.  Jesus thinks differently.  He told us to deny ourselves.  Denying self implies sacrifice, and Jesus doesn't tell us to do something He Himself doesn't do.  We'll see that God's love is all about sacrifice.    


In this series of articles I've briefly attempted to show that God is the Almighty Creator.  The motivation for what I've said is based on Ellul's quote in chapter 6 of "The Shack".  He said that God's almighty nature is a secondary aspect to who God is.  I say no aspect of God is secondary.  They're all primary. 


God is almighty.  There's no doubt about that.  He spoke all things into existence without any effort.  He is sinless.  He is perfectly good and right in who He is and what He does.  He hates sin.  He is just as much the embodiment of justice that demands judgment as He is the embodiment of unprecedented love. 


If God hates sin so much, you might wonder why He made us capable of sinning in the first place.  I could be wrong, but I think He made us capable of sin in order to show how serious He is about love.  Romans 5:6 through 8 says, "… Christ died for the ungodly … very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man … but God demonstrated His own love for us:  while we were still sinners Christ died for us."  Paul's point is simple.  Anyone can love a nice guy.  It's hard to love someone who isn't so nice, but if you can, you prove your love is real.  Making us capable of sinning, and knowing we would sin, demonstrates that God's love is real.       


Most of us think we're pretty good.  We think this way because we compare ourselves with others who we perceive aren't as good.  God thinks differently. He compares us with Himself, not to the murderer incarcerated in prison.  I may be just as good as the next guy, but compared to God, I'm a miserable sinner.  That's not a popular statement to make these days.        


Humanly speaking, you might think God has found Himself in a dilemma.  His wrath is raging because of our sin.  He has no other choice but to condemn us in judgment, but how can He when He loves us?  This is where sacrifice comes in.  God made His plans about this apparent dilemma before He even created us. (Ephesians 1:4)  It wasn't an after-thought once Adam and Eve sinned.  Prior to creation, God chose to demonstrate sacrificial love by joining us in sinful humanity.  It sounds like an incredible fairy-tale, but it's not.    


When God entered humanity, He wasn't born into wealth, power or prestige.  He was born into a simple working class family who lived in a hick town in the hills of Galilee .  It was a rough neighborhood for a nice guy to grow up in.  His so-called illegitimate birth probably made Him the centre of many jokes.  Things didn't get any better as Jesus got older.  When He finally came of age, He led a simple life.  He was a superstar for a brief period of time, but once He became a threat to Jewish society, He was falsely accused, arrested, and condemned to death as a criminal.


Before His death, Jesus wept bitterly for His murderers and for the city He loved.  I don't think the degree of  sorrow behind His tears has ever been felt by us. 


Jesus' death wasn't an ordinary death.  God's violent wrath exploded on Jesus in death.  He actually  "became" sin while hanging on the cross. (2 Corinthians 5:21)  That's why Isaiah 52:14 says that He became unrecognizable as a man.  Sin actually disfigured His body. It's hard for us to understand, but the One who hates sin, became sin.   That's sacrifice.   


Jesus did rise from death, and return to be with His Father.  Many of us haven't thought this one through.  Jesus returned to heaven, but not in the same state of being that He had before becoming human.  From my study of Scripture, Jesus was the divine Word, or mind of God, prior to His entrance into humanity.  He left that unity when Mary conceived Him, and will never return to it.  Instead, after His resurrection, his human body was transformed into what we call a glorified body.  When we see Jesus in the next life, we will see His glorified body,  nail-prints included.  For this reason, Jesus has altered His state of existence for all of eternity, just for us.  He didn't become one of us for 33 short years, but forever.  That's sacrificial love.  Anyone who rejects this love is left to experience the same wrath that Jesus experienced while on the cross. (Hebrews 10:26) That's "heavy stuff" as we used to say in the 1960's.  That's also a Biblical truth that is being rejected in many ecclesiastical circles these days.  


My explanation of  who God is and how much He loves us doesn’t come close to doing Him justice.  Humanity can't explain God properly.  If you take the time to think about these things, and study them in Scripture, you will begin to see who God is.  You'll also see who you are, which probably isn't who you thought you were.  Only at this point will you begin to appreciate God's love.  That's why I say, "the degree to which you or I can begin to understand the almighty, awesome, and just nature of God, will be the degree to which we will begin to appreciate His love."   For this reason I disagree with Ellul's statement in chapter 6 of "The Shack".  The Almighty Creator aspect of God is something that should never be relegated to the back of our minds. 


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