Tuesday, April 10, 2007

God Loves You (don't forget to add "JUST AS YOU ARE")

Why do people say that, just as you are ?

Just saying "God loves you" is not enough? When we speak to people about God and we get to the point of telling them that God loves them why do we need to add the words "just as you are"?

Is this a reaction to some people thinking that God is mean and is mad at them for something and by adding just you are we're making God's message to them not so harsh? Have some people witnessed to others in the past and made them feel bad about their sins a little too much? Have they focused too much on the bad stuff ? Is this more sensitive method of telling people about God's love better than the other method of "too much fire and brimstone".

If God is mad at us should He be? Does He have to adjust His expression of love for us to accommodate our potential reaction to it ?

I can imagine a cop catching someone in a crime and walking up to him and apologetically saying..."hey I just wanted to let you know don't worry, the judge is not mad at you, the judge loves you just as you are. I just have to tell you that no matter what you've done, no matter how bad you think it is the judge is not mad at you. When you see him just really really tell him that you are sorry and didn't mean to make wrong choices and he will automatically pay all of your fines and completely forget that anything bad ever happened. Remember he loves you...he is longing for you to come to him and share his love with you..." blah blah blah.


Just as you are! It confuses me. It skews my view of what I have always understood about my crime and offense to our Holy God. It takes the emphasis off of my crime and soothes me before I even have a chance to grasp or fathom the depth of my crime. Maybe I need to spend some time coming to terms with the crimes I have committed and the harm that it has done to His holy nature.

If I was caught in a crime and received the penalty which would be impossible for me to pay and if it was clearly communicated to me what the consequences would be and they were very severe I would be scared, fearful, guilty, ashamed, nervous, troubled, trembling and whatever other emotion associated with a person who has been caught in a crime with the knowledge they will have to face a judge whose job it is to execute a sentence to match the crime (I have experienced those emotions). No one has said anything yet about love or anything like that. I'm not much in the mood to hear about thoughts of love. I've just been caught in the act of a crime.

What if God IS mad at us? Does that make you feel uncomfortable? When I read the bible I see many many occasions where it appears that God is not too pleased with our behavior.

Check out Romans 3:10-18:

As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."
"Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know."
"There is no fear of God before their eyes."

This is like the cop catching you red-handed in the act of the crime.

If these are the crimes you were caught committing (breaking the 10 Commandments) and you were arrested and standing before the Judge and had no way of hiding your offenses, were embarrassed, ashamed–stripped of all dignity, dirty little secrets that no one knew about–EXPOSED, confronted with guilt and felt completely helpless to rectify the damage done to the Holy Judge who can tolerate NO wrong (Habakkuk 1:18-Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong) then as He delivers the sentence for your crime all of the sudden things now go from bad to worse. Not only are you found completely guilty but it is impossible for you to even come close to paying the penalty which would satisfy the perfect law of the Judge.

You hang your head in shame...then you fall to the ground pleading for mercy.

How long do you stay down there? What if He decides to let you stay down there and suffer for a little while? Remember it does say in Lamentations 3:22 that "It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed". This story could end there and all would be well in the Judge's just world. But it also says "his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."

This perfect Holy untouchable Judge steps down from His bench and picks you up off the floor and gently tells you that He has the penalty paid for. He decides to do this only at His good pleasure. Only because He decides to do this.

The Judge does not even need to say I love you. His love is evident in His action toward us.

This person would not have even been able to understand God's love AT ALL if he had not been in the position to be full aware of his offensive crimes and their evil consequences.

To attach anything behind the statement "God loves you" is very dangerous. God's love means nothing to a person except that He is some kind of needy, dependent God who just can't live without us...huh? –nothing could be further from the truth. God needs nothing. He certainly does not need us. He can cause the rocks to praise him if He so pleases.

We can begin to understand God's love only after we've received His mercy. Only after we have admitted we are totally deprived and unworthy. We can then receive His grace. We can then be allowed to receive His sanctification which will then allow us the privilege to worship Him.

"Just as you are"–I still don't know what they mean by that. The only thing I can think of is they are trying to make people not feel so bad. But I think people NEED to feel bad...very very bad. Then they can experience God's love.

If you choose to say "just as you are" after saying God loves you to someone, you better make sure they understand how they actually are.

Romans 5:6-8
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


Blogger Hank said...

I think your on track here Ken. If one has no idea how bad they are they can not understand how much God really does love them. Particularly in light of the hatred God must have of sin when Christ's sacrifice was so great and the punishment so severe. I guess it boils down again to the word truth. We can not relativize it or we relativize Him who is the Way, Truth and Life.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

I see your point and understand your concern, even agree with it (to an extent). However, the Gospel message is taught in Jesus' words, the Bible authors' inspired words and Jesus' actions towards those he ministered to. His actions clearly communicated (without words) that he loved them...just as they were. Several examples could be mentioned, but just consider the prostitute who poured perfume on his feet with her hair, the embrace of the poor, the acceptance of the leper. I don't think the phrase is unbiblical, just not specifically included in words in the message.

The absense of words or phrases in the scriptures doesn't negate their biblical truth. Consider this, the word Trinity is never mentioned in the Bible, yet I accept God to be three Persons in One. He is the triune God. The word rapture is nowehere to be found, yet the message of the rapture is clearly a biblical one. The word drug is never mentioned in scriptures, yet all believers would agree that we should avoid drugs to preserve the presence of the Holy Spirit who indwells us, being controlled by Him.

I guess what I am saying is this...truth drawn from God's Word which is consistent with scripture as a whole is still truth. We use our language to present the message in a biblical fashion. We preach Christ crucified with our own words and phrases, based on the original message. I suggest that if you want to discount certain phrases, then you must be prepared to present every single word of your Gospel message using only Bible quotes and avoid any personal insight. Your argument fails to address that issue.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess that whole "For God so loved the world" thing needs to be tossed, right?

Along with that hymnal with "Just as I am"

9:51 PM  
Blogger Hank said...

Not tossed, understood. In Acts 20: 27 Paul says "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Peter says in II Peter 1:19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,
21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
I think we do better to take any mans words and discuss of argue if you will from what the Bible says in full rather than parts and pieces. I think we can all be guilty of the same error of worldliness that "suppresses the truth" rather than "....be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as you are means that Chirst has died for the things you have allowed to keep you in bondage, its with knowing your pain, which is not only your sin, but your generational curses and misfortunes. It means that I dare not just focus on how bad I am, but How good God is, so that people may see the Christ in me. Kenny after reading many of your posts I would have to say that Jesus would probably say to you,You who are without sin cast the first stone, I understand your purpose, but what you post is not righteous indignation, rather it is knowledge based on truth which means nothing. Where is the relationship, knowledge is not wisdom, So pray about your heart and know God does not live in a Box. Be blessed.

12:21 PM  

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