In my life, I’ve made many mistakes. Actually, if I’m honest, I’ve not made as many mistakes as I’ve made terrible decisions. These were not decisions that were made without knowledge of consequence, but in spite of it. Decisions were made with self serving interests…sometimes to the detriment of someone else. I wish I could say that I made those decisions before becoming a Christian so as to be able to avoid the label of hypocrite. However, I think I’ve made more of them since being a Christian than I did before. Having said all of this, I’ve spent much time in stir over whether or not God could really love me. If He could…then how much could He possibly love me? I mean…let’s be honest…If he’s really a holy and perfect Being…He couldn’t love me a lot…especially since He would know my every thought…my every action…the deepest, darkest recesses of my heart and soul…
I cannot begin to truly express the doubts I’ve had about God’s love for me. How is it possible? I have a hard time loving myself. I have a hard time believing that those that truly know me could love me. Perhaps it’s one reason that I only let certain people in to know the “real” me. I’m fairly easy to talk to and I “know” a lot of people. I guess, in truth, one could say that I’m acquainted with a lot of people. But only a select few know me well. Only certain people know some of my most guarded “secrets.” I have a hard time trusting people in this way because, as humans, our love is so very conditional. We want to say we love people unconditionally, but there comes a limit to how far we can extend our loyalty to someone. Therefore, I guard a lot of things about myself…probably out of fear of rejection. No one really knows anyone else as deeply as they think they do. The human heart and soul are seemingly infinitely deep and have some pitch black corners and rooms.
I’ll never forget when the reality hit me that God knows my every thought, hope, dream, intention, etc. I think it made me panic quite a bit. In that moment, it occurred to me that if He knew the things about me that I won’t even admit to myself, then there’s no way He could accept me. I felt this way because I had always heard people say, “God loves you very much.” There are even Bible versions that translate John 3:16 in such manner. They say something to the effect of, “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son…”
I never realized that our thinking of God’s love for us in terms of how much He loves us had a major impact on our understanding of His love for us. When we allow ourselves to think that God loves us A LOT, then we eventually arrive a very difficult problem. If something can be quantified in terms of “how much” then it has limitations. This means that if there is an amount assigned to something, no matter how great or small, then there is a boundary to how far it can go.
Perhaps now you can see the problem with this thinking. Perhaps now you can relate to my insecurity about God’s love for me when I accept that He loves me “very much.” The more I search my heart…the more time I spend in my own head…my mind spinning in all kinds of directions…then I find some things I know are awful. I find things that are deplorable. Thoughts about other people…notions…intentions…thoughts…hopes…desires…all kinds of things that I would be mortified if ever made known to ANYONE. Yet there is God…an omniscient Being. Someone that knows those very thoughts before we do. Someone that knows why I really do things. Someone totally familiar with my true desires and intentions.
How could such a One continue to love me? How could such a One love me “very much?” How could such a One not reach the end of their rope with me?
Because He doesn’t love me “very much.” He doesn’t love you “very much.” He doesn’t love anyone “very much.”
He loves us absolutely.
Think about this: God is infinite. He has no beginning or ending. Nothing ever occurs to Him. Nothing new enters His thinking. He knows all that can be known. There is no limitation to Him. Everything with Him is without quantity. Therefore, we cannot quantify His love. We should never try to quantify it. We should qualify it. His love has no quantity. It’s infinite. It cannot be measured. It’s eternal and complete.
It has a very definite quality. John 3:16 is best interpreted the way most translations interpret it. “God SO LOVED the world…” The actual rendering of the text refers to the way in which He loves us…not to how much He does. So what does this mean to you and me?
It means that the quality of His love is that it is for the unworthy. It’s for the unlovable. It’s for the worst of the worst. It knows no boundaries and goes to the deepest pits. His love accepts all that I am. It takes me just as I am. He accepts, loves, and guards me with all of the nastiness, cruelty, and malice that lurks inside. He doesn’t see areas He cannot love. He simply bathes them in it…and this is How He continually changes us…by showering His un-quantifiable, insanely jealous, passionate love on the blackest of souls…
He doesn’t love you very much. He loves you absolutely. He loves you infinitely. He loves you eternally. He loved you before the first molecule of existence was created. He loved you before He created any other being in any other place.
I can rest in that…and so can you.
Image taken from: http://christianityforlife.com/2016/04/30/does-god-really-love-me/