Sunday, January 10, 2016

Jesus Loved Us [First] While We Were Still Sinners (1 John 4:9-10)

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son [Jesus Christ] into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins
(1 John 4:9-10, NLT).

The Apostle John reminds us here about the fact that “God is love” (1 John 4:7) is not based on some theory or idea which someone thought up. Instead, God put love into action and demonstrated His love for us by giving us the very best gift of all – the gift of His “one and only Son, Jesus Christ.” Why? “So that we might have eternal life through him.” And the gift was not given because people are so great and deserve such a gift. In fact, God not only held nothing back and gave the best He had but He gave it to a world full of people who really do not deserve such love. The Apostle Paul summaries it very well: “[God] showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

Let’s try to make this truth more practical. Think of something you have that is your most prized possession. Is it a special shirt or blouse? A smartphone? A car? A savings account? Or what? Now think of people you know who are really hard to love or at least hard to like. They are either bullies or obnoxious – the kind who have very few friends. Imagine that you decide to give your prized possession to those persons, even though they do not deserve such a gift. And you really do not have to give it! But you give it anyway and don’t expect anything in return. Now, would that be hard for you to do? I know what might happen to me: I would think too much, I might change my mind a few times and get angry. I might come up with a less valuable gift and then maybe give it away somewhat reluctantly… and then… expect for at least of equal value in return.

But God is not like that. God could be mean and angry, One who does nothing but scream and punish. But we know that our God is One who loves and cares, accepts and listens. God gives love and eternal life. What a different! God not only loves us but He provides us with the way that we can live with and close to Him, that is through the death of Jesus who gave His life because of our sins. Jesus came “to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath]” (1 John 4:10, Amplified Bible). God is great!

What is even more amazing is that God gives us the free will to decide if we want to be close to Him or not. Again, God could have made us to be robots who had no minds and could make no choices. But instead, He lets us decide what is most important in our lives, and if we want to accept this great gift from Him. Whatever our choice is, God knows. Jesus knows. Regardless, this truth remain true: not that we love Jesus, but that he loved us first. How you want to respond to His amazing love? Read 1 John letter one more time.

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