At Thanksgiving yesterday, we shared around the table some of the things we are thankful for. Someone at our table said, "I'm thankful for God's love. It's just amazing that he continues to love us even when we mess up. And we all mess up all the time, and yet God continues to love us." I admit, sometimes when we talk about God's love, it feels to me like mere sentimentality. Even as you read what I wrote above, you might think how sentimental it is, or cliche, or even empty words. But it wasn't, and it isn't. God's love is the primary foundational theology of the New Testament. The Gospels are formed around the presentation of Jesus, the Messiah, for one reason and one reason alone - the love of God. I like to call this "God's Great Affection." God has a great affection for us. He leans in our direction and moves toward us with affection. It's actually quite profound. In fact, we can say it over and over again, "God loves you," "God loves me," "God loves us," "God loves everyone," but there are points in life when that just hits hard and the truth is overwhelming. When a husband cheats on his wife and she offers him the forgiveness of God, when a young man makes a terrible mistake and ends up in prison and he encounters God there, when we fail and fall and realize that despite our inabilities God still not only welcomes us back, but invites us home for comfort, healing, and restoration - then God's love flows over us.
Pulitzer prize winning writer Annie Dillard says, "Grace flows over us like we're filling our cups under a waterfall." That's what it feels like when what can be a cliche hits us for real and overwhelms our sensibilities, our strengths, and our cynicisms.
I personally struggle with this. Even though in my head I know God loves me and I have had particular times of break-through, so often words about the love of God - particularly in the church - sometimes ring hollow and empty to me. They seem like just words.
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