God’s deeper love for us

Published 10:09 pm Friday, October 10, 2014

By Chris Surber

Years ago I was a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps. I loved being an enlisted leader in the Marines. As a young man I had a uniquely impactful role in the lives of younger men and women. My leadership example could make a lasting impact on their character. My dedication and esprit de corps had the power to shape theirs.

I remember one young Marine — let’s call him James — who was always doing the wrong things. He was-absent minded on duty and made constantly irresponsible decisions off duty. If he wasn’t late for work from drinking too much the night before, he had an appointment at legal for selling his car in a shady deal at the barracks. He was a mess.

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There was another side to James. He was very talented at his work. When he was properly motivated, he could be a great Marine. For years I tried to coach and mentor him. I went out of my way to protect him from bad paperwork that could ruin his career. I put my own reputation on the line more than once to save his neck.

Eventually he made a mistake too big for any help from me. While he awaited trial I went to see him. He asked me if he had gone too far and if I had stopped liking him. My words were almost exactly this: “I don’t dislike you. I’m hurt that you’ve not let me help you. I love you too much to pretend that you are not worth more than this.”

I think that God’s love is something like that for us. It’s infinitely greater but similarly too deep, too wide, too enormous to pretend that we are not worth more than our behavior implies. God loves all just the way we are. Biblically, there is no question about that. But He loves us far too much to leave us as we are.

“Seek the LORD while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that He may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for He will forgive generously. ‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD. ‘And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’” (Isaiah 55:6-8 NLT)

God’s love is far too rich to be passed out like Valentine cards in an elementary school classroom. God’s love is far too impactful not to require authentic repentance. God’s love is an ocean of transformation, not a thimble of vain self-worth. When we worship God without repentance, we worship ourselves.

Speaking strictly biblically, God isn’t the tooth fairy doling out rewards because we’re so cute. He’s unfathomable and holy, offering a depth of divine love that is too deep not to transform us.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.