Jesus reveals to us the God who has existed in eternal relationship as Father, Son, and Spirit. In complete oneness they have existed before time began in a relationship of love for one another. Love is at the core of this relationship because God is love. The Son was given because this was his declaration of love for his world. A declaration that was rooted in historical reality. The son became man, lived, died, rose, and ascended in actual history because God loves us.
Yet this extravagant love is hard to fathom because we know we’re not that lovable.
Why would God do this for me?
What must I do to earn this kind of love?
If I can’t earn it then at least I can pay it back right?
In one of my earlier books Jesus In The Margins I recounted this story:
When I was twenty-three years old, I believed that God could not love me. It was a lie that was imbedded in my soul. It’s not that I didn’t know the Bible taught that God loved me; I just didn’t believe it. Instead, I would try to fill the void with working hard so that people would think I was really great. The whole time I was betraying the deepest love I had ever experienced, the love of Jesus Christ. I was running about because I couldn’t fathom Jesus’ love for me. When it finally hit me that Jesus really loved me, that the good news of the gospel was true for me, too, the weight of “performing” for love just blew away.
This is the hope of the gospel; that we are invited into God’s love! Not that we earn our way in or perform our way in, but that God freely and extravagantly loves us.
“For this is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” – 1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)
Feel free to engage one or more of the following questions and to interact with one another as well.
1. “How we understand God shapes how we see the world” (47). When you hear the word “God,” what or who comes to mind?
2. Does your image of God drive you toward relationship or toward religious performance?
3. We are made in the image of God, and God’s image is an image of relationship. Does this truth shape how you understand yourself and the world? How?
4. Throughout this chapter Rick explains our role as that of a child enjoying the extravagant love God gives us. Is this a role that you are comfortable being in with God? Why?
To engage previous chapters follow the links below.