Understanding God’s true nature is life changing. A must read is Wayne Jacobsen’s book He Loves Me! who I am indebted to for some of what follows. Don’t be confused about what happened in the Garden and at the Cross. Misunderstanding God’s role in evil and suffering can lead to despair during personal tragedy. I have defended biblically elsewhere who I here claim God to be. Even those who have attended church may not recognize the God I speak of. Once we understand God’s unconditional love for us regardless of past, present, or future failures, we can be empowered to love others in unimaginable ways.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is really the Story of the Incredible Father. God loves us unconditionally but respects our freedom. God waits and hopes. His love is unlike any human’s love we may experience. God is not a representation of our earthly parents but the perfection of the human parents we have always desired. God doesn’t offer a formula; God desires a friendship. (John 15:15) Intimacy, resulting from understanding and trusting God, will free us to be transformed into who we truly desire to be.
It isn’t that God doesn’t appreciate our efforts to please Him. God simply wants us to know that His love is unconditional and that His gift doesn’t have to be earned. We try to earn points with God but He is not keeping score. Real intimacy doesn’t result from fear and obligatory love. God is doing all He can so we might trust Him. Accepting than attempting to earn a relationship with God doesn’t lead to the freedom to sin but the freedom not to sin.
From the very beginning in the Garden, God desired to enjoy a relationship together. God knew real trust could only emerge when one is free to reject it. God’s warning about the Tree was really an act of love. What parent doesn’t warn their loved one of dangers ahead? The curse of death in not trusting God knew best about good and evil was a blessing. Living in a corrupt world forever would be horrific.
The Cross is the undeniable proof that God loves us more than we can ever imagine, and He will go to great lengths to convince us to trust Him. The Cross is not just about appeasement and punishing sin but a rescue from the stronghold of sin. Sin has its own punishment. Punishment doesn’t break the power of sin. Was God focused on our sins or the power of sin over us? Jesus did not have to die to pacify God so He could then start loving us. The Cross is not a get-out-of-Hell free pass; the Cross is an invitation to a relationship than can enable us to not be victims of sinful ways. We can never conquer sin until we trust God as Jesus did. Jesus could have called angels down to rescue Him. The Cross reveals what Adam and Eve didn’t do – trust. The Cross can give us victory over sin when we begin to understand the deep love God has for us and how He can empower us to not sin but trust Him.
God loves us unconditionally. It does not matter our sins in the past, present, or the future. God even loves us when we are not remorseful. He just keeps hoping and waiting with open arms if we wish to fall in love with Him. We often are not invited to know God and understand how much He loves us; we are taught to fear Him and be scared of eternal damnation. Can a true friendship develop under such a grave threat? Could the emphasis on God’s judgment than love be the reason for lack of transformation of many who call themselves Christians? Ask yourself – what kind of God would be willing to trade His life on the Cross for ours so they we would not miss out on a relationship with Him and all the grandness that includes?