The Boundless Love of God
I want to speak to you today of the most wonderful thing in the world, ………the most wonderful thing in the world
is the boundless Love of God. It was love that moved God to create the world, love that moved God to redeem the world, and love which moves him to spare and sustain the world even though it is so often at variance with his will.
So in the moments left to me today I want to focus on what I am calling
The Unequalled Love of God
The Unconditional Love of God
And The Unending Love of God
God made us for love, he breathed the breath of God into the body he had fashioned, and man became a living soul. No man looking into his own sinful heart can find a reason why God should love him; It isn’t there. Charles Wesley the great Methodist Hymn Writer said, “he has loves us because he would love” God made us for Love. We are his by Creation, we are his by redemption too. When our poor race took the path of evil God did not abandon us to our sin? With all the resource, all the patience and all the love of Deity, he planned our redemption. He came in the person of his son, lived our life, was tempted in all points like as we are, and smashed the might and power of sin upon a cross. Picture him there for a moment on that cross he is naked, before the gaze of the men and the women, there is blood in his hair, and blood in his beard and blood on his body. The spittle of the Soldier is still upon his cheek, he is despised and rejected of men, he could step off that cross as
easily as I am speaking to you now, but he stays. Why does he do it? This is your Saviour hanging there, why does he do it? The Hymn writer put it, “Love moved him to die, and on this we rely, he hath loved, he hath loved us, we cannot tell why, but this we can tell, he hath loved us so well, as to lay down his life to redeem us from Hell”. and another writes, “Oh ‘twas Love ‘twas wondrous love, the love of God to me, that brought my Saviour from above to die on Calvary”
So then let us consider three important characteristics of this Boundless Love of God.
First of all it is what I am calling, Unequalled –
The Unequalled Love of God
There are numerous passages in Scripture that give us very real and practical insights into Human Love and into Gods Love, and I firmly believe that the most effective human love, the most caring, the most enduring, the most practical expressions made by one person to another, will inevitably fall far short of the Love we may call Divine! In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul outlines the highest form of Christian Service and Ministry, and his thesis concludes that without love, all our work, words and efforts are empty vessels that hold no water, and instruments that make a noise, but have no tune.
I have seen human love exemplified in three categories. The first I will call “LOVE IF” This is a conditional love that depends entirely on the specific needs or requirements of the individual concerned, being met. A love that must measure up to expectations. “I will love her if she does what I ask, if she keeps a clean house, if she spends wisely, if she is generous, caring, kind and a good conversationalist. If she launders my clothes, if she cooks my meals, if she trains and teaches my children “ ….. And so the list of conditions goes on. A Love if! A rather heartless and selfish kind of love, and most
unsatisfactory when one thinks of any permanency?
The second category into which human love often falls, is what I will call, “LOVE BECAUSE”. This is similar to “Love if” in that it’s a conditional love. Here too, the requirements of the individual must be satisfied if love is to be experienced. “I love her because she is attractive, she is caring and kind-hearted, I love her because she is generous, she is wealthy, because she is well liked by all, she is socially upwardly mobile, because she is well qualified, because she is intelligent“… and so this list also goes on! Love because, and Love if, are certainly not the stable foundations on which to build any permanent relationship or marriage.
The next category of Human love is the only enduring one of them all, – LOVE IN SPITE OF … and this is the kind of love that can make for happy, healthy and lasting relationship. “In spite of the fact that she cannot cook, I still love her, in spite of the fact that she is not a super-model, I still love her, in spite of the fact that she doesn’t have a University Degree, I still love her, in spite of the fact that she regularly puts her foot in her mouth, I still love her!” Do you see what I am saying, that real love sees beyond the characteristics, beyond the faults and failings, and beyond the physical, to the soul, and sees the treasure that lies within a persons heart and spirit.
The Apostle Peter writing to new believers about Husband and Wife relationships warns against excessive outward adornment in the braiding of the hair and the wearing of decorative robes, jewels and so on, and he says a man should look for “a gentle and quiet spirit in the heart of his woman” (1 Peter 3. 3-4.) Nevertheless, even when we may have achieved the highest standard and levels of human love and charity, we are still lacking in anything comparable to the Love of God. His love is unparalleled and unequalled and he proved it by laying down his life for us. Jesus himself said: “greater love has no man
than this, but that a man laid down his life for his friends.”
John 15.13. God has that “in spite of” love for us too. For although we may have regularly walked in disobedience, and although we give little or no thought to His word and His ways, he still cares for us, and the reason why he is patient and merciful towards us – is simply because he loves us.
I often smile at the recollection of my schooldays when I first fell in love with the headmasters daughter. I was about six years old at the time, and I used to write her name ”Shelagh” on the palm of my hand – and as she walked by, I would wave at her with an open palm, hoping she would see her name. Sadly my clever scheming didn’t work, and Shelagh went on to marry another. God not only loves us, but there is a sense in which He is in love with us. He says “I have written your name on the palms of my hand” Isa 49.16 (That’s where I got the idea) You may not ever think of God, but his thoughts are ever towards you. Why should he forgive you? – Simply because His love moves him to have mercy on the penitent and repentant soul.
This leads me into the second aspect of the Boundless Love of God, what I am calling …
The Unconditional Love of God
The greatest example of unconditional love in the whole of the Bible, is, I believe, the Love God expressed for his own people, the nation of Israel. In Genesis Chapter 17, which we read earlier, God made a Covenant with Abraham, in his 100th year, and swore by himself that he would bless his descendents and give Sarah his wife, now 90 years old a child. Abraham and Sarah both laughed at the absurdity of it, but what God had said, they discovered he would perform. God promised that this Covenant would be an “eternal” covenant, a never ending promise that would fall on all who bore the mark of the covenant, – a circumcision in the flesh.
Tragically, in the years following, Abraham’s descendants displeased God and by the time of Moses they had become a nation in bondage and slavery. The promises of blessing
and special favour, seemed a distant relic, and it would be many years before they would even get to see the land of promise and many more before they could possess it. Yet in spite of their disobedience, in spite of their idolatry, and in spite of their many transgressions of the law given in the 10 Commandments, God shows that he was still their God, and still their lover, and still true to the covenant promise he had made with Abraham.
Do you realize that God made us for himself, he made us for fellowship, and that depth of intimacy (a friendship) which he desires to have with his people and it is still as enduring today, as it was in Abraham’s or Moses’ day. That is why it’s an everlasting covenant. It is still in force, and has become even more relevant to us in Jesus Christ. God has not created two peoples or two nations for himself, – God has made us ONE NEW MAN in Christ Jesus. The Israel of God is the Church, and every precious promise made to Abraham, is ours also
in Jesus Christ.
In what the Church has commonly called the “Benedictus” or more literally the Song of Zechariah, recorded for us in Luke 1, 67-79, John the Baptists Father announces that the infant John would “prepare the ways of the Lord” who was coming to fulfil the oath that God swore to Abraham. Jesus was coming to fulfil the promises, and the same unconditional love shown to the wayward Israel, would also be shown to an often wayward Church. God is no respecter of persons. Acts 10.34, shows us that he has no favourites, and his love is not conditional on who or what we are, but rather on who and what we can become as clay in His, the Potters hand!
We would all agree that from our point of view it is often extremely difficult for us to fulfil the commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves. Now there are some wonderful people in the world, friendly, helpful, considerate, and generous, and it is easy to love those, but there are also some horrible people in our world, – people who are rude, arrogant, self-opinionated, self-centred, bitter, resentful, back-biting, critical, and if we are honest it takes us all our time “liking” them,
let alone “loving” them?
Yet God loves them, and the amazing thing is that he loves them in just the same measure as he loves you and me, with that same unconditional love! Jesus said, “it is of no profit to you if you simply love those who love you“. You must learn the grace of loving those who would despise you, abuse you, criticize you, and belittle you, in other words, love your enemies. Jesus taught this radical gospel purely because he wanted us to understand that God loves HIS enemies and loves them unconditionally. Friendship with the world in enmity with God, and many have turned their backs on God and chosen the world, but God still loves them.
This morning, I listened with some amusement to a Ned Kelly Country and Western song here on Shine fm which listed the categories into which many of us fall , and this song rightly stated that …
Jesus loves … Long Haired Hippies, Hells Angels and Gipsies, Low lives, and Hobos , Half wits and Weirdo’s, Butchers and Bakers and Candlestick-makers, He loves Sailors and Dockers, Ravers and Rockers, Nutters and Headers and High-Flying Jet Setters, He loves smokers and boozers and pickers and choosers, Redheads and Scaldies, and Skinheads and Baldies, Priests and Preachers, School-kids and teachers, Bookies and Gamblers, Home-birds and Ramblers, Losers and Winners, Old-timers and beginners, Jesus Loves Wheelers and Dealers, Outlaws and Peelers, Traitors and Heroes, Hitler’s and Nero’s, Bankers and Robbers, Hard workers and Dossers, Nice Girls and Spice Girls, Housewives and Vice Girls, and Jesus even loves Country and Western Singers. (Which incidentally was the title of the song)
You see God loves us all unconditionally, , red or yellow black or white, all are precious in his sight. This bring me to the third aspect of the boundless love of God, and incidentally I am using the word boundless in its true sense – that is without limits or boundaries.
Lastly let us consider
The Unending Love of God
When I was a child I announced to my parents that I wanted a tractor for Christmas. A simple enough request. Any boy brought up in a farming community and in the farming environment would have had an interest in tractors and machinery in general, but to avoid any misunderstanding, I went on to point out that it wasn’t a dinky little matchbox type toy I was after, I wanted a real tractor, a Massey Ferguson, a little grey tractor just like My Daddy had and drove on the road. I was only about 11 years old, but I had helped my Daddy steer his tractor, and I knew I could steer mine if I had one.
No doubt, you will already have guessed the end of this story, for yes, Christmas came and went, and I did not receive my “Massey Ferguson” and in my disappointment I announced to my parents in no uncertain terms, that well ”I didn’t love them any more!” My love for them had been strong and true from day one, but now in disappointment and rejection, I drew a line under all that, and terminated my love there and then. To my great surprise, this announcement neither shocked them nor prompted them to make amends.
As I’ve said, Christmas came and went, and there was still no tractor, and I think that the substitute gift was a watch, and I did need a watch, and didn’t need a tractor – according to my Mother! The surprising thing was that my meals still arrived at the table regularly as clockwork, my bed was still made for me in the mornings, and my pyjamas were regularly washed and ironed as well as every other necessity. Life continued much as normal, and no-one ever mentioned the tractor again. In time, I learned to love again, and perhaps upon reflection I never truly stopped loving them. But I learned a valuable lesson in the process.
Sometimes LOVE has to say NO! because saying YES could bring pain? Sometimes loving your Children is all about refusing to give them everything they ask for; and if God says NO, we can be sure that he has something better in mind!
Understanding just how much I was loved at home, helped me throughout my life to understand just how much I am loved by God. This gives me a real sense of self-worth, so that I really don’t need the approval of others, as long as I have Gods approval. The hymn writer understood this when he penned the words, “He is my everything, He is my all.” Should you walk away from me, it will hurt, but God will never abandon me, and in this glorious truth, I take great comfort.
Understanding just how much God loves you can revolutionize your life! Remember God loves you with an unending, unconditional and unequalled love. God knows about your struggles, your desires to follow after righteousness, and the stumbling blocks that Satan has strategically placed in your way. God Knows all of that and is with you in the struggle, with you in the fight, with you in the battle for your faith, and will be with you in every victory. Rest on Him, lean on his help, trust in his mercy, and rely on his faithfulness.
When the Disciples were in the boat and the storm rose up upon the waters, we read in the gospel narrative that Jesus was fast asleep. I sometimes used to think that Jesus was asleep in my own storms, until I realized that he was teaching me to enter into His rest. When we understand how much we are loved – nothing, nothing frightens us, we rest all the time in Him – whatever the conflict around us. You see it was in great calmness of soul that Jesus slept, he was already there, but the disciples were not yet there. Do you see what I am saying, God is already ahead of you, in your tomorrows, quietly and confidently he has planned in love for you and for your future. He abides in the calm of his destiny and purpose for your life and if you will surrender to His Lordship and Love he will lead you into that calm, and into that plan. As we sang a while ago – “Oh love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee, I give thee back the life I owe that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be”
Now this final word
We have seen the unequalled love of God, the unconditional love of God and the unending love of God, and while I believe that this love is the most wonderful thing in the world, I also believe that the saddest thing in the world is unrequited love, love that is not returned. Have you seen it? I have.
In my Counselling ministry I have met with many whose hearts were breaking simply because the one whom they had fallen headlong in love with, never gave them so much as a second look! I remember the heartrending words of a young woman who when asked if she could not cast this love from her heart for it evoked no response, replied with an honest simplicity, “there is nothing I can do about it, it has gone so deep it could not go deeper.” God loves like that, and it has gone so deep it couldn’t go deeper! Have you yet given him love for love?
God Bless You – Amen.