Servants' News

Mar/Apr 2000

The Love of God

By John Eastman

 

This is an article about how great and complete Godís love is for us, and how we need to break away from the physical things of this Earth in order to really know God and understand His love for us. My goal is to give the reader the vision to see Godís awesome love for us and realize that God is more important than every physical thing that exists.

Sometimes we make the physical life the most important thing. In fact, the entire physical life from birth to death is none other than growth and preparation towards life ever after with God, and within God, for all eternity. Someday physical life as we know it will not exist, and our challenge as Christians is to realize that the physical life is just a temporary bridge to cross over and fulfill our destiny as the spiritual children of God Almighty. Someday we will pass from a physical existence to a spiritual realm where life is eternal and filled with Godís love.

There are so many examples in the Bible of men and women who gave up everything physical for their relationship with God. Certainly these Christians wrestled with the physical things of this world every day of their lives, but at the end of each heroic story they gave it all up for God. What was it they found in God and nowhere else in this physical world? Job, who was put through trials of every sort, lost everything he owned, endured all manner of sickness, was attacked by his wife and friends, simply summarized the ďwhole of his existenceĒ in Job 13:15, ďAlthough You slay me, Iíll always hope in You.Ē Another example is in Rev 12:11, where the Bible says those who overcame the physical things of the world ďdid not love their lives to deathĒ.

How did Job and these Christians in Revelation have such a fervent love for God when faced with their own personal trials of death? What motivated them to see beyond their own physical existence and reach out to a relationship with God for all eternity? Many times in the Old and New Testament the Bible states Christians were tortured and killed as subjects of mockery, dwelled in caves and in tents in the desert, and suffered much in their lives (Heb 11:35-39). Did they see something in God that was far greater than physical life itself? What did they see?

Is the answer that they separated themselves spiritually from this Earth in order to forfeit their security and comforts in this temporary life for something far greater? Did they escape the bondage of this physical life and reach out to God and bond with Him? The only logical answer that would justify such incredible acts of sacrifice and suffering is that these Christians bonded with God totally and completely. God became their reason for living and they knew His love for them. As they faced their own prospects of death, they looked forward to a better resurrection (1Cor 15), to an incorruptible life, merged with God for all eternity.

What is this bonding factor that makes people go so far in their relationship with God, where they will allow themselves to be thrown into the fire, burned at the stake, lose their homes and families, subject themselves to persecution, and be put to death in the most horrendous way devised by mankind? What force or ingredient makes it possible for a human being to go this far and still love God? I believe the answer is that Godís love in them is so fulfilling and joyful that it strengthens them to reach out beyond the physical ties of this Earth and to believe in a better resurrection, a resurrection to dwell with the One who created the entire universe. The joy of Godís love and His affection transcends this physical life, fading it to insignificance compared to a life with God without end.

Sometimes we can look at God, our heavenly Father, the way most children look at their physical fathers. We take Godís love for granted, thinking He owes it to us for that is His job, for He is our Father. In our childish way of looking at things, we forget that if God didnít love us so much, we would not exist. And without Godís continuing love for us, we would be subject to our own mortality, alone and without spiritual purpose in the universe. God does not owe us His love, nor is He obligated to love us. Yet, God did choose to love us, and it cost Him His most precious treasure in the whole universe, His Son Jesus Christ. And, Christ did not consider it enough to give His life to save us from sin (which is remembered in the Passover). Christ loved mankind so much that after giving His life for us, He went even further and dwells in us, creating God in us to bring us into the family and Kingdom of God (which is revealed in the Sabbath Day). One day we will be with God and Jesus Christ forever because of Their great love for us.

I would like to relate how I found out about God the Fatherís love for me. In the early 1940s I was a little boy about 3 years old and was placed in an orphanage home-school with 150 other children in the Appalachians. With no mother or father, the teachers became our parents and mentors. When I was approximately 12 years old, all of the boys had to go and work in the fields early each morning as we worked for our own food. In the hollow between the mountains behind our orphanage there lived an elderly couple, who lived with no running water or inside plumbing. At the time of this event, they were both sick in the bed and asked me after breakfast the next day to bring them water from the spring and build a fire. The spring was about 1,000 ft. from their home and there was no way they were able to get their own water.

After breakfast that next day, the hired hand who drove the truck to the fields told me to get on the truck. I told him I had to go get Rolley-Lee and his wife some water. In my mind as a child, I thought they might die if I didnít get them the water. When I walked away, he immediately hit me with his fist. As I was falling, I grabbed a clump of grass just before I passed out because I knew that no one would save me from falling into the creek. When I finally came to consciousness, I was all alone. Because of this kind of treatment my whole life at the orphanage, my vision of a ďfather figureĒ was someone who administered severe punishment and showed no love. A fatherís role to me was to punish, punish, punish!

When I was older and in the Worldwide Church of God, I carried these feelings with me and felt like Christís job was to appease the Father on our behalf because He was such a harsh God. For years the Church reinforced these feelings because it preached the works of the law and the wages of sin, with very little mention of God the Fatherís love, grace and mercy towards us. As time went on, my fears and worries concerning God the Father became more intense, and I became afraid of Him and couldnít feel love for Him either. I felt like Godís total relationship with humans was one of correction, or else we would be condemned and go into the Lake of Fire.

One day, while I was attending a church Spokesman Club, the topic for discussion was to name one of the best things that your earthly father has ever done for you. I was stifled for words, realizing my view of all fathers was that they were for correction and not for love. So as I went home that night, I was very broken up and disturbed by the fact that other men said positive and loving things about their fathers.

I knelt down to pray to God the Father about it, realizing I had a different way of seeing things. During my prayer, a strong feeling came over me that I was standing at the edge of a field. I saw myself from the back as a small boy with bib overalls, and I was facing a forest. The forest was dark and frightening to me. I realized I had to go through this forest to get to the other side, and I had great fear inside me. Suddenly there appeared Someone standing beside me, who reached down and took my hand, holding it gently but firmly. He said with an assuring and loving voice that He would go with me through the forest. As I started to see ďthe love of GodĒ during this prayer session, I began to cry. As I was crying, I felt strongly that God at that precise moment stepped off of His Throne, the Great Throne over the entire universe, His majestic, powerful, and almighty Throne, and through His Spirit, He came down and put His arm around me, and told me He loved me. Needless to say, I cried much that day because I saw the love of God that I had never seen before.

When I think of Godís love, I think of a song I used to sing when I was about 8 years old in the orphanage, which goes like this:

The love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen could ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell.
Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies a parchment made,
And every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above, would drain the ocean completely dry.
Nor could the scroll contain or hold, though it stretched from sky to sky.
Oh love of God, how rich and pure, how measureless and strong,
It shall forever more endureÖ

So the conclusion of this article is best expressed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:35, 38-39 below:

ÖWho shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, Or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

ÖFor I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.


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