One of the most simple yet deeply profound things I’ve heard was recently verbalized by a friend of mine at Cook County Jail.
Looking at the men before us, some likely facing a prison term, others release, some not guilty and some fully guilty of their alleged crime/s, Gaius said:
“God doesn’t hate you. He LOVES you!” He repeated that just once and said a very few more words.
Plenty of these men have never heard anyone say such a thing. Lots of them have been told from their earliest days what worthless fools they were and are, that they’d never amount to anything and always be about as without value as they apparently are today behind bars. THAT is the “faith” many have been handed.
We live in a time when it’s not only difficult to believe the truth Gaius proclaimed but when professing followers of Jesus talk and behave toward others as though what he said isn’t true at all.
For many of us it’s far more easy to point out sin and offense than to accent God’s actual heart toward a sinful broken person. I’m not even talking about shying away from calling sin what it is in clear biblical terms, not saying we ought never to confront people about those things that are taking their life and those they influence further away from the love and grace of God… but the fact is plenty of us are better at “shooting” rather than embracing people, quick to trash, not so much express God’s grace.
As painful as it is to admit, I cannot remember the last time I heard anyone speak those exact words in a gathering and certainly not to incarcerated people. And that includes me.
God indeed will judge people by His own perfect, just standard and yes, we have in His Word clarity on that. Jesus’ Own words in the Gospels speak about separation from the kingdom of God due to sin. Argue as you may re. biblical Greek, context, careful interpretation methodology -and I still don’t buy universalism (all will be saved in the end) but as a cultural, personal, familial (not difficult to understand why) concern and concept. Jesus simply didn’t teach it.
Yet and still, the mind and heart of Father, Son and Spirit are “Whosoever will, let them COME”, and “Come, take of the water of life freely”. This is not the mean, nasty, “I love to cause sinners to suffer” God some present Him as. The true God I find in The Bible and have experienced in my lifetime of walking with Him is “Slow to anger… rich in mercy”. Too many of us Christians are not.
Agree or disagree my friend or enemy, I will echo my bro’s. sage and true statement: God does NOT hate you – and I’ll add: Regardless what you or others think or say about you!!! God LOVES you! Learning to trust, follow and love Him back is core to life, eternal life that Jesus Christ offers. He has given every one of us a measure of faith. What we must learn is that faith in Him and not ourselves puts us on the road to grace and LIFE.
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn