Sunday Devotions: The God Who Loves
I don’t think we’re always meant to have a “child-like faith,” but if we’re to “receive the Kingdom of God as a little child” (Luke 18:17), it may not be such a bad thing to keep coming back to the earliest scriptures we memorized. These familiar lines from this week’s gospel, for example:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)
I can’t remember the first time I read or heard these verses. I imagine my younger self didn’t recognize words like “perish” or “condemn,” or even “saved.” And I’m not sure someone with their whole mortal life in front of them gave much thought to “eternal life.”
But any child knows what love means, either because they’ve experienced its presence or its absence.
The former in my case, fortunately. To be told that God loves made God knowable. Whatever else God was, he was like my parents, grandparents, and the other members of my rather large, always affectionate extended family. It made God like the kind adults who taught stories in Sunday School, VBS, and the Christmas program about a God whose beloved Son made time for children.
Even as I’ve come to grapple with some of the complexities of Christian theology, that cornerstone of a child-like faith has stayed with me: God loves.
I might wrestle with theories of sin and salvation, but all ultimately lead me back to a loving God. The God who condemns sin wants no sinner to perish. The God who was rejected again and again by his children sent his Son to save them. The just God who loves the world as it should be is the merciful God who loves the world as it is.
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the precision and intricacy of the life of the mind. But sometimes we needn’t overthink our faith.
Sometimes it’s enough just to know what we knew as children: God loves.
Next week’s lectionary readings: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; John 4:5-42; Romans 5:1-11.
The Pietist Schoolman is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
God is provoked to wrath many times in the OT, but we never read that He was provoked to love. God IS love.
Thanks for this powerful reminder, God loves. What a blessing to start the day with that truth.