This is the final installment to this short series on “Sloppy Christian Sayings.” The purpose in doing a series like this isn’t to be harsh or critical of what Christians say. The purpose is simply to encourage us to pay more careful attention to the details of Scripture. God bothered to put it there, so let’s bother to slow down and think about what’s there and why it’s there.
Occasionally, you may hear someone say, “There's nothing I can do that will make God love me more or less than He already does.” Upon first hearing, that sounds nice. But is it true?
The Bible doesn’t describe God’s love in just one way. It’s not single dimensional. God’s love is portrayed as complex and multi-dimensional. For example, when Jesus is encouraging his followers to love their enemies, He uses one dimension of God’s love as the example to follow. He says God, “…causes his sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). Here God’s love is demonstrated in His general care over all of His creation. So if God’s love is being talked about in this sense, then yes, there’s nothing I can do to make God love me more than He already does.
In Ephesians 5, we’re told Jesus’ love for Christians is like a husband’s love for his wife. It’s unique, deep, and intimate. In a way, there’s nothing my wife can do to make me love her more than I already do by virtue of the fact that she, and no other, is my wife. In this sense, it’s true that if you’re a Christian, there’s nothing you can do to make God love you more than He already does by virtue of the fact that He’s adopted you as one of His children. But there’s more...
Jude 21 says, “…keep yourselves in God’s love…” This implies the potential for me not to keep myself in God’s love. For the record, I don’t believe this is talking about the loss of one’s salvation. But the verse does imply the potential of some kind of loss of love. In John 15:10 Jesus says something similar: “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love…” Which again implies, if I don’t keep Jesus’ commands I’ll lose something of His love. So when the Bible talks about God’s love in this category, the statement, “I can’t do anything to make God love me more than He already does” isn’t true. D.A. Carson illustrates something like this in the following scenario...
Fast forward a few years to the time when my son is 17 years old. His curfew is 10 p.m. He comes home at midnight. As his father, do I love him more or less than I did before? Well, it depends. There’s a sense in which I love him the same. He’s my son. There’s an unchangeable love a father has for a son. But there’s also a sense in which what he is about to experience (i.e. the wrath of Dad!) because of his disobedience may feel like a loss of my love. By coming home two hours past his curfew, he has not “kept himself in my love.” So in this sense, my love for him fluctuates and his experience of my love for him fluctuates as well.
“I can’t do anything to make God love me more than He already does.” In one sense that’s true. In another, it’s not.
Let me conclude with one practical takeaway. One reason you may not “feel” like God loves you, is because you’re stuck in some kind of habitual disobedience. Jesus said it so clearly and emphatically: “if you keep my commands, you’ll remain in my love.” Obedience is so tightly connected to experiencing God’s love.
This week I will be giving away two copies of the book Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters, by Timothy Keller. To enter, simply sign in to the Rafflecopter giveaway below and enter either by following me on Twitter, on Instagram, or on both! Winners will be chosen and notified by email once the giveaway has ended. At this time, I do ask that only those living within the 48 contiguous United States enter the giveaway. Thank you for understanding.