Monday, April 10, 2006

A Father's Love

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." -The Bible

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day in which Christians remember the triumphal entry of Jesus as He entered Jerusalem, greeted by cheers of people--only days before he would be crucified.

As this is Holy Week, I thought I might dedicate my posts this week to spiritual topics. I hope that they will spark some good conversation. I'd love to hear back from y'all in comments, if you'd like to respond.

I became a Christian at ten years old. I went to a summer camp where some of the things I'd grown up hearing started to become clear to me. All my life, I had heard Christian "catch phrases" like, "God loves you", "we are all sinners", "Jesus died on the cross for our sins", and "Jesus rose from the dead." I had a vague understanding of what those phrases meant, but mostly they were Sunday school words that floated in and out of my brain without much understanding. At camp that summer, they began to make sense. I'd like to have a dialogue about each of the above phrases this week. I want to share what they have meant to me on my spiritual journey, and you can share what they mean to you.

Today, let's talk about the love of God: God loves you. Wow. The idea that the Creator of the universe loves little me is nearly impossible to wrap my mind around.

In the English language, we have one word for love. In the original languages of the Bible, there are at least three different words for love that describe three different kinds of love:

Phileo- brotherly love
Eros- romantic love
Agape- the unconditional love of God

Agape love isn't a feeling kind of love, but a love of action. It is the kind of love that we hear about in the parable of the prodigal son. The rebel son broke his father's heart when he left the family, squandered his inheritance, and found himself destitute. Finally, he mustered the courage to come back home, ready to do menial work for his Dad, just to have a place to sleep and eat. Did the Dad scold him or make him feel guilty? Not even close. When he saw his son in the distance, he ran to him, embraced him and threw him the welcome home party of the century! That is the kind of love God has for us. Remember the parable of the shepherd that left behind the 99 "good" sheep just to find the one sheep that lost it's way and wandered off? That is how God loves us. He longs to rescue us from our lostness. That unconditional love is for us!

The fact that God loves me unconditionally changes everything for me. It gives me such security because I know that His love isn't contingent upon my performance in this life. I don't have to earn His approval and love. It is mine--no matter what.

This concept can be hard to grasp, especially if your own father didn't treat you with that kind of love. I have heard it said many times that a person's view of God is greatly influenced by the way their own relationship was with their father. For example, if your father heaped shame or criticism upon you anytime you did something wrong, it can make it hard (but not impossible!!!) to relate to God as a Heavenly Father who offers unconditional love.

Feel free to comment on one or both of the following questions:

  • How does knowing God loves you impact your life?
  • What effect has your relationship with your Dad had on your view of God?


Anonymous said...

The unconditional love of Father, son, and Holy Spirit makes it much easier for me to view myself as they see me (i.e., blameless and with the power to live a holy life), rather than as I am afraid people see me (i.e., afraid of criticism). This gives me the freedom to be who They have created me to be. Ironically, it is with my own, earthly (and sometimes critical) father that I find it hardest to rest in this freedom.

Miss Nibbles said...

Hmmm... You know... I've heard, that... though that's a nice bible study lesson, the three types of love, that when you actually look at how Agape is used in the greek... it's used in some ways that can't possibly mean "perfect love" as in God's love... though I mean, it IS used in situtations which clearly could mean "perfect love" it isn't ALWAYS used in situations that indicate God's perfect love. It makes me wonder if my understanding is imperfect or if our translation is imperfect. Eitherway, I think it makes a nice lesson.