I have been overwhelmed with two things this Christmas season. They’ve been heavy on my mind before now, but I have been reminded again and again of them in the last few days.
First, people today do not have the initial understanding of a father’s love due their backgrounds.
When Princess Diana died, I was speaking in Amsterdam. The media were quoting one of her best known statements, “The biggest problem in the world today is that people do not feel loved.”
I have seen the hard truth of that. In October, I trained a total of 425 students at the Word of Life Bible Institutes in Florida and New York. As I counseled many of those students individually, I was amazed at how many have never known the love of a human father. Their stories varied, but the results did not.
Sometimes the father deserted the family when they were very small, other times he was now in jail, and still other times addictions to alcohol and drugs kept their father at a keenly felt distance. With this ever-growing background, so many unbelievers are now struggling to understand how a heavenly Father could unconditionally love them.
Second, when people actually do consider the love of God, they compare it to the love we have for one another.
When I hear this kind of thinking, I immediately share I John 4:10: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
God does not nor has He ever defined love by the love we have person-to-person (parent and child, neighbor and neighbor, friend with friend). Instead, Scriptural love is defined by God Himself. Sometimes, it can be difficult to grasp that love because thinking in terms of human love is just so easy. It’s more tangible. It’s more known.
Even still, we cannot compare it to human love. We have to contrast it to human love. Our love is conditional; His is unconditional. Our love may change or fade in time; His love is unchanging and unfading. Our love is based on personal performance; His love is based on who He is. You could go on and on to explain the contrast.
A person once explained the God’s love to me as the following: “I asked God how much he loved me? He didn’t answer. He just stretched out His arms and died for me.”
Isn’t that what I John 4:10 says? “But that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Someone could say, “I love you. Here’s a new car.” But how do you know he doesn’t have ten cars, so parting with that one is not a problem?
Another could say, “I love you. Here’s million dollars.” But how do you know he doesn’t have a hundred million, so parting with one is no sacrifice?
When someone says, “I love you, so here is my son,” that is love.
People may find it difficult to grasp the love of God, but know that it’s because His love is so deep and so different than anything we’ve ever known!
What a privilege we have this Christmas season of explaining God’s expression of the greatest love this world has seen—by giving His Son to be born in a manger, knowing He would die on a cross.
We can tell those around us this season, “Someone does love you and He loves you with a love completely in contrast to anything you’ve ever seen.”
God never asks us to earn it or be deserving of it because we as fallen mankind never could. Our sole responsibility is to simply receive this love as a gift by faith. Should those who underestimate His love accept it in full, they will have the merriest Christmas they have ever had!