There are those that say it’s difficult to believe that God loves. How does God love people who are suffering? Who are poor and helpless and victims of abuse and war daily? It is difficult, they tell us, to understand why God would sit and watch his beautiful creation go up in flames. Does he not care? If the universe is his orchestra, has he not noticed that it has long ceased to follow his conducting?
Then there are those that fully believe that God loves them. But well, they are dressed in lavish clothes and well fed. They attend the best colleges, they are surrounded by friends and family, people who show love to them. Christmas for them always means an increase in possessions. For them, it is always raining; God’s blessings are showers on their heads. Why wouldn’t they believe in a loving God? They have experienced love. Or have they? And how can we even begin to believe in a God out there who loves?
See, the existence of love itself presents a problem. Whether they care to admit it or not, love has disrupted existentialist and atheistic theories. While animals merely coexist and feed upon each other for survival, humans love. We may not agree on a definition of love, but we each can attest to the truth that we desire this thing called love, we attempt to give love and “true love” is an ideal we are each born believing in. Somehow in our minds, love makes everything better. The songs in our culture say it all, “Where is the love?”, “Love is all we need” and yada yada yada.
Every human believes in love. This fundamental belief is what drives us to search for partners. Gay, bisexual or straight, every human searches for a mate. This belief in love also drives us to question and search for a God. I daresay the existence of love proves the existence of a God. A God who is the source of love. Essentially He must be a God who loves. This is why most questioning begins with an accusation at God’s supposedly loving behavior. He must be a God who holds and possesses this ideal called “true love”. He must be love Himself. He must be what we have been searching for all along.
God loves. This is not a question. It is not to be doubted. What is to be doubted is if we understand what it means to love. We were born with different beliefs but God in his wisdom sent us His Word- a new alignment (the right alignment) of our beliefs. (Most of our questions and doubts arise from our lack of knowledge of the word). I believe the entire Bible is a love story, but I will point out one verse that says it all: (John 3:16) 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. Two things here.
First. God loved. Past tense. Is God loving? Yes. How do we know? Is it because of the privileges, blessings and benefits we have or don’t have? No it is because He has loved us. He has provided a way of salvation. Yes, there are several who do not accept this salvation, but does that make Him unloving? Is the Father unloving because when He provides food, his child does not eat? Or when He pays for his son to attend school, his son fails? This is his definition of love and if you want to judge Him at least go by His definition.
Do we deserve this love? That’s a better question to ask. (Romans 5:8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What kind of creatures are we? Look at yourself, and think about several things you do wrong, knowing perfectly well the right thing to do. In order to understand how much He loves us, one must recognize how much reason there is not to love us. Our world is overtaken by darkness. The powers that rule this world are clearly evil. We have rejected God; we look at His creation and admire it but not Him. We sing praises to mere men and pay thousands to see them in concert but pay no attention to God. We are too proud to look up to a God who can help us; we wonder, why must we even have to ask God? Why can’t He just do everything? We want to be gods on our own, capable of getting all we need by our own hard work. Every problem and situation that does not go right is another reason for us to not believe in God. Then, we feel we have the most compassionate hearts, because we care for a group of orphans or blind people or we serve in a refugee camp. But are we not welcomed and praised when we do these kind acts? How much kindness have we shown to people who clearly do not want us around? Who would spit on us and give us up to be killed? And how far have we gone in our attempts to love? Have we given up all our belongings for the poor? Have we given up our lives?
When you hear of a group of people experiencing need in the world, what is your first thought? Donate a few dollars? Say a silent prayer? God looked at us and saw what we needed. He saw His creation was ruined completely. He saw brothers killing brothers. He saw men sleeping with men. He saw greed and evil ambition and lust for power. He saw wars and crime. He saw divorce and rape. He saw pride. And He didn’t simply speak to save us (He spoke to bring creation into existence). But He could have spoken. He didn’t send us money. All riches and honor belongs to Him so He could have sent us whatever. But He demonstrated His love. He died. He stripped Himself of all power and authority and riches that belongs to Him and came to die. By doing so He bought freedom back from the powers of darkness. He bought rights to His kingdom and He offered them not for a $1000 or for a pilgrimage around Mecca or a sacrificed animal but for free. This is the gospel I know.
You may not agree with His demonstration of love. You may feel that a better demonstration of love would be to provide education for all children in the third world or end hunger or eradicate all disease. Sadly a lot of ministers of God have not fully grasped this either, they preach a prosperity gospel and many feed on this to the point where they feel one’s prosperity is directly correlated to the love God has. But this is not in agreement with His Word. The prosperity gospel is welcomed and embraced because it is more pleasing to the ear. But Paul writes in Galatians 1:10 saying, do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. And rightly so, because we may not all need a place to live, or schools to go to or water to drink but we all need our sins to be forgiven. We all need Jesus. We are incapable of forgiving ourselves for our own sins. We drown in guilt and heavy consciences; we cannot run from the blaring truth that at our best, we are half good and half evil. What Jesus did on the cross was for everybody, purposely to change that.
This demonstration of love by dying on a cross is not all there is to His goodness. God is represented in the gospel as a Father. He is ultimately a giver of good gifts. Have you heard that everywhere He went, He was doing good? He was preaching, teaching and healing the sick. He did this because He desired that we would prosper and be in good health, even as our souls prospered. Jesus assured us that our Father in heaven would take care of us, provide food and raiment and that we should never worry about tomorrow. Mind you, He said the Spirit of the Lord God was upon Him because He was anointed to preach the gospel to the poor; to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Even though His primary way of showing love was to die on the cross and deliver us from this present evil world and from perishing eternally, He wishes that we would be in health and be provided for, even as our souls prosper. Now another problem stems from what is meant by a soul prospering.
Our souls must first prosper before we prosper in terms of wealth and health. Have you met someone who had everything they wanted and still was not happy? Wealth does not imply peace of mind or peace for that matter. First and foremost, it is of topmost priority that our souls are saved. Once our souls are saved, we can have the peace of Jesus Christ and contentment and the fruits of the Spirit. It is not a coincidence that it is these same fruits of the Spirit of kindness and self-control that are necessary to manage and increase one’s finances. Anyone who has earned financial success can attest that learning to give and save have led them to a path of green pastures. When our souls prosper, we are in better shape to handle wealth and health. Both are needed because a sick man cannot rightly enjoy his riches, no matter how wealthy he might be. And so Jesus healed (and still heals today) and secondly He taught us how we can have all things (wealth) added to us. (Matthew 6:33). This is not to say that the unsaved deserve to be poor and die from disease. But this is the mind of God concerning the right order of things, when we are saved and repent from our sins, we are in better position to receive these blessings. It is no coincidence once again, that most sinful habits involve spending (wasting) large amounts of money. Besides He does not want money to become our idol for it will only destroy us when it does. The choice of salvation however, remains up to us.
Whosoever believeth. The believing is up to us. Salvation is by faith alone. With all the logic and powerful tools of reasoning in the world, God chose faith as the way of salvation. This way of salvation however puts every human on equal ground. Faith is for the poor, the rich, the young, the old, the blind, the deaf- everyone can believe. So everyone has the opportunity to be saved. In fact so much else lies in our hands because Jesus has given the keys to the kingdom of heaven to His church. Whatever we bind, is bound and whatever we loose is loosed. Everything relies on us, on the statements we make and on our prayers. We have not, because we ask not. People are not saved because we have not prayed for them to be saved.
God answers prayers. It is not for me to explain why it seems as though good things happen to certain groups of people and bad things to others but to simply believe God for His word. He answers prayers. When He walked this earth, He did not heal everyone. It was said that in His hometown He could not do any great work except heal a few ailments. But there was not a single request He denied. To everyone who called on Him, He answered.
I believe God’s word in totality. I cannot question God for anything He does. This is because my intelligence is but a speck of dust compared to his mammoth boulder of wisdom, understanding and knowledge. As a computer programmer, I know that no program that works perfectly with no bugs could just explode out of nowhere and begin to exist. Even if I had not met the programmer, I would believe that there must have been a developer who sat and thought and worked on this program I am using. I do not have what it takes to build my own biological system and the Universe as a whole. For that reason, I believe that just as I have the ability to create businesses and programs and art and books, there must be someone who had the power to create me. I know that no answer and no proof will ever make anyone see God. We hope for that which we do not see. If we can see it, it is no longer faith. I pray God gives you faith to believe. You can start small by believing that God exists and more importantly that,