A More Wonderful Love
Have you ever heard that God loves you just the way you are?
Well, I think that’s a lie straight from the pit of hell.
OK, maybe that’s a little drastic.
Maybe it’s just a lie straight from Detroit.
I kid! I kid!
And now that I’ve alienated my Michigan reader, here’s what I’m getting at:
I believe God loves me, very much. So much he gave His life for me, but He can’t love me just the way I am, because He is holy. And I’m a mess.
And when I say “I’m a mess,” I don’t mean to say that I’m wounded, or broken, or just plain messy. I mean to say I am sinful.
I may not be the narcissist I was in elementary school, but I still struggle with pride. A lot.
I may not be the sexually obsessed perv I was in high school, but I still struggle with temptation (thanks to yoga pants).
And I may not be the maniacal control-freak I was before Julie and I had kids, but I still struggle with fear and selfishness.
And that’s just the way I am.
But that’s not the way God loves me.
He doesn’t love the pride that causes me to wonder why my posts don’t get as many likes as [insert popular blogger here]. He doesn’t love my innate response to any woman wearing yoga pants. Which is to stare at them, by the way (ether to lust or to scorn, it matters not). And He doesn’t love my selfishness which wants my kids to behave just so I can have some peace and quiet (as if peace ever came from children instead of Jesus).
But God does love me. But not just the way I am.
He loves me in spite of the way I am.
And that’s really a much more wonderful love.
Would I ever realize the depth of my pride if God simply overlooked it? Would I be set free from porn and sexual fantasy today if I never came to terms with how it repulsed the God I say I love? Would my family be stronger today, if I told them God loved me just the way I am, and if they’d just get me the remote and something to drink I could get on with my day?
Of course not.
God loves me IN SPITE of the way I am. He loves the person He formed in my mother’s womb. He loves who He made me to be and who He’s making me to be.
Indeed, God loves us unconditionally. And THANK GOODNESS, because there’s no condition you or I could meet to merit his love. But if I’m looking for a god to love me just the way I am, the God of the Bible isn’t that god.
To be fair, I think I know what many people mean when they say, “God loves you just the way you are,” and I’d probably agree with them. However, in our culture of rabid depravity, I think it’s a too-easily-misunderstood maxim. I believe it has led too many people to believe God simply overlooks their sin,
well nobody’s perfect.
I realize that saying, “God loves you IN SPITE of the way you are,” doesn’t sound nearly as warm and fuzzy, but I think if you pray about it you’ll agree it’s more accurate.
And, I believe you’ll come to see it as a more wonderful love, because…
God didn’t choose to overlook our sin. He chose to die for our sin. That’s loving us IN SPITE of who we are.
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” – Titus 3:3-5 (NIV)
However, if you’re not convinced, if you still think you’d rather find someone who will love you just the way you are, you’ll want to tune in next week as we flesh out where the intimacy impostor of acceptance will eventually take you.
Regardless, if you struggle with acceptance, you will likely find giving up the quest for unconditional acceptance intensely difficult. It is my prayer that the next couple of posts will give you the inspiration to succeed in that endeavor.
[This is post is part of a series called Relation^ology (it begins with this post) where we identify the greatest relational need of our heart and then ID the counterfeits we seek out or settle for instead. Relation^ology started out as a discussion series and can be booked for your college, youth or young adults group (or singles group, life group, cell group, community group or whatever they’re calling Bible study these days).]
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
Dug this weekend’s DNA? Be a good friend and share with your friends on the social media platform of choice: Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter.
The LoveEd discipleship series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE you fall in love!
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
[originally published: 9/3/14]