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Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Answer is Love

I was surprised. For the first time in my life, when darkest evil exploded into my reality, I prayed for God to issue His judgment immediately upon the persons by means of “an eye for an eye,” with death. The surprise to me was not the fact of evil, but my strong desire to see the evil persons meet with God’s judgment now. God’s response to my prayer was not agreement or sympathy with me. His response was to listen, let me express my thoughts, and then show me what He sees.
            To see humans as God sees, we have to go back to the very beginning. John the disciple takes us to the very start with statements about God. For was God not there before the beginning of time? John states in his epistle, “God is love” (1 John 4:8b [NASB]). What does that mean for us? The first and most important thing we should understand is this: Because God is love, He created us out of love and for love. He created us to be in relationships – with Him and with other humans. This is the most important thing for each of us. We are created to experience and to respond to love. Thus, the most important thing for any human being is to receive love. When God created Adam and Eve, He breathed life into them. This breath of life as stated by Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” [NASB] and explained through Genesis 1:2 is the Spirit of God. Man came into existence because of God’s creating hands and His life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit, which He breathed into man and woman. Humans were created by God who is love, by love, and for love, and with God’s life-giving breath, the Holy Spirit.
            Since our being is all due to God’s love, then our ultimate need is to receive love. Before the sixth day of creation, God created all we would need for our persons - food, shelter, and covering. Clothing was not necessary until Adam and Eve ate from the tree of which God told them not to eat. After they ate from the tree, God prepared clothes for them. As can be seen, God provided all our needs before He created humankind. The persons of today and history who acted in evil were made just as the rest of us were, by God’s hand, with His breath, and because of His love. People who have chosen to do evil were loved of God and God still desires to have them return to Him. What happened since their birth until now is the story of trickery and deception. It is the same story the serpent told the first man and woman: if God really loved you, He would let you do what you want. Eat of the tree and you will be like God; you will not die (Genesis 3:1-5). The need for humans to be liked and loved, led them to believe Satan’s trickery and deception. Satan promises what we perceive our needs are to lure us towards him. To be like the Father who loves us, Satan tricked Eve and Adam to disobey God and eat. Satan tricked them into believing that if God really loved them, He would let them know all He knows and make decisions as He makes decisions. Satan seemed to provide for their needs, but instead led them to disobedience against God. God had their best interests at heart, but they believed the devil. This sounds like children from every era; if your parents really love you, they would let you do want you want. Parents often do not allow something because it is not best for the child. Satan twisted this by explaining to Adam and Eve then and to people now that God does not love you since He will not let you do what you want. Satan promises that he loves a person because he lets the person do what he or she wants.
            These lies of Satan about love are what we find with people who do evil now. God created each of them because He loves them. Remember, God is love. God desires to be in a loving relationship with them. One of His loving gifts to each person is freewill. Each person has a place within him or herself for love to live. People need to know they are loved; it is the most basic of human needs. Satan tricks people to use their freewill to acquire love from him. Satan promises anything the person wants if he or she will choose to do something for him. With each action for the devil, the devil promises just one more thing and then the person will get their reward all the while the devil is changing the person from the inside. The devil darkens his or her  sight so that it is harder for him or her to see the Light; God is true Light. With each act for the devil, Satan closes off the sight of a person more so there is more darkness and less Light. God never gives up hope that one day the person will turn back to the true Light and true Love, His love. That is why God prepared from the foundation of the earth a way of salvation, a way for people to return to Him. This way is through His Son, Jesus.
            God’s love is so great that He prepared a way for us to return to Him knowing in advance that each of us would rebel, each person would sin. His gift of freewill is a gift of love. Because we do sin, we rebel against God, and because God cannot be in the presence of sin and evil, God prepared a way for us to return to Him and receive love from Him. God never gives up hope for His people. He wants to call each of us His children. He desires to provide all our needs again. He knows everything we need and has the power to fulfill those needs. God does not act with coercion promising He will do something if you do something for Him, as Satan does. No, God’s promises come to us one-sided; because He loves us, He has made a way for us to return to the Light and to love. His promises have occurred because His Son, Jesus, lived on earth without sin and died taking the punishment for all our sins. Jesus’ death paid the penalty for all our sins and wiped our slates clean so that we are pure and can be in a love relationship with God again. John in John 3:16-17 said, “God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus, so that whoever believes in Him (Jesus) will not die but have life forever with Him. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world would be saved through Him.” God, before the beginning of the world, throughout the sinning of humans over the passage of time, prepared a way for each of us to be in a love relationship with Him, the God of love. Because of His love, He allowed His Son, Jesus, to die for all that we have done wrong so we can be in this love relationship with Him, so that we can have our most basic need for love met. There is nothing we have to do and there is nothing we can do to earn this love of God. All that we do is believe Jesus is the Son of God who comes to take away the sins of the world as John said in John 1:29 and prophesied in Isaiah 53.
            What was God doing and saying this week as I prayed for His judgment on these evil people? He was waiting and watching His beloved creation, humans, and desiring they turn back to Him for their true fulfillment of love. Since God is love, then reason states that anything contrary to God is not love. God cannot be contrary to Himself. He is who He is. He is Yahweh, I AM. We can only have our need for love met through God. The people who did evil this week, last week, last month, last year, and over the last millennia were all seeking identity and love. God had been calling out to them. Satan had been darkening their sight so they would be tricked and deceived. Understanding this, I must change my prayer for judgment against these people by God. I must change my prayer for them by asking God to bring someone in which His Light burns brightly into the reality of these people of whom Satan has confused and tricked to do his evil. I must have the heart of God within me asking in His Spirit that His Light, Truth, and Love be made manifestly evident to the people whom Satan has deceived so they can know true love instead of false love and so they may enjoy eternity with God in His kingdom. It is not just a situation of “them”; it could have been us. John Bradford’s statement, “There, but for the grace of God, go I” is applicable for each of us.
The question remains for each of us: What prayer will you raise to God for the people involved in heinous evil by the trickery and deception of the devil? Will you pray for Love or judgment?