Do you feel that God loves you on a personal level? Do you think that God cares about all the problems in your life? Do you see God as friend or a stranger?
While these can be some tricky questions to answer confidently, I’ve found that looking at the way I appreciate and interpret God’s gifts to me tells me quite a bit about how I see His love.
For example if a stranger walked up to you and gave you a brand new car, you would be really thankful. You would probably be amazed by that person’s generosity. You also wouldn’t assume that he loved you on a personal level.
You would probably assume that the stranger doesn’t really care about who you are. You would think they’re JUST a really nice and generous person. Most people would come to the conclusion that they don’t KNOW them from the guy next door and that the gift was impersonal.
Simply put, you would assume that the guy cares about you in a general way. Most of us assume that God also cares about us in a general way and not an individual way. When we think of God’s love, we rarely think that He cares about us and our hearts in a personal way.
There’s nothing wrong with random acts of generosity. There is something very wrong with the assumption that God’s offer of grace and salvation looks anything like a random act of generosity. God loves YOU personally and wants to spend eternity with YOU.
If we miss out on the truth that God cares about us personally, then we miss the whole point of the Gospel. God didn’t create you with care and then send His beloved Son to die for you so that He can get the attendance numbers in Heaven up. If God was just playing a numbers game, don’t you think it would’ve been easier to create beings that couldn’t rebel and break His heart?
The truth is that God didn’t send Jesus to the cross because He wanted to make sure enough people showed up to the eternal party in Heaven.
God sent Jesus to die on the cross because wanted to bridge the gap that kept Him from having a relationship with you. He made the greatest sacrifice because that was the only way that He could get to you. He did that because He cares about you.
I may repeat myself way too many times, but that’s only because this point is entirely too important to miss and far too many of us don’t believe it deep down in our hearts. Many Christians, including myself, have fallen into the trap of thinking that God loves them in a general way and not a personal way. Many of us feel that God reached into a bucket of us and grabbed a giant handful of people and brought them into His fold.
We assume that God was aiming for all the pastors and prayer warriors when He reached into that bucket and that He just happened to get us when he got a big handful. If you want proof of our belief in God’s general love, just look at the common assumption that many Christians trusted in Christ simply because they were born in a Christian family and grew up in a Christian community.
I know this assumption well because I believed it to be true for YEARS. I still remember the culture shock from going to different cultures and finding Christians who thought and loved just like I did. At that point, I realized I had attributed my relationship with God to the fact that I was raised in a Christian house and a Christian family.
When many of us become Christians, we assume that we are more or less joining a club where everyone gets to come under a blanket called Jesus’ love. We think that our relationship with Jesus is based on the general love that He gives the whole group and not on the personal love that He gives us. This is not how Jesus sees any of us and it’s quite a shock when we realize that He doesn’t see us as one little speck in a giant crowd.
Jesus’ love for you is personal and in the same way the groom sees the bride or a father sees his only son, to Jesus you are the only person in the world.
While my parents, church, and school played some part in my faith, I am a Christian only because God stepped in personally and invited me into His family. God called me out personally from the crowd and into a personal relationship with Him. My culture did not bring me into the House of God; He did that all on His own.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5
That verse doesn’t sound like Jesus expects people to be saved because they grow up around Christians. Being born of water and the Spirit sounds like a supernatural action that comes as result of a supernatural being stepping down and touching your heart. That doesn’t look anything like learning politics, manners, or any of the other cultural practices that we pick up from people around us.
Our salvation is a supernatural and personal gift from God. If we ignore the supernatural or the personal aspect of it, we miss out on the true greatness of that gift. We take something wondrous and make it look like a random act of generosity.
I don’t mean to create any sort of guilt with this argument. I only want to point out the true wonder and beauty in the gift that we all carry around in our hearts. If someone pointed out that your car was actually a Transformer, you probably wouldn’t shrug and go on about your day.
While that’s a pretty nerdy (and awesome) example, it actually describes our predicament really well. We see God’s offer of salvation as impersonal and almost commonplace because we grew up in a Christian country or believe we decided on our own to become Christians. We don’t acknowledge the truth that our salvation is something from beyond this world and that it is impossible for us to completely understand.
When we lose the wonder and personal love that’s an inherent part of our salvation, we begin to believe that God cares about our souls and not our hearts. This is the opposite of the truth and we must actively fight against this lie. Whenever I have accepted this in the past it drove a little wedge in between God and my heart.
In other words, it dimmed the light of God’s love in my heart because I didn’t believe that He cared about me personally and I consequently didn’t lean on Him and His love when I was in need. As the saying goes: ‘No one cares what you know until they know how much you care’. In the same way, we can’t fully appreciate God’s gift of salvation or listen to His commands in Scripture until we know that He cares about us.
Whenever you face trouble, heartbreak, or simply have a bad day, I want you to ask yourself whether you believe that God cares about your problem. I don’t care if it’s trivial or earth shattering. Just ask yourself and then ask God through prayer and Scripture whether He cares about your problem.
The answer will probably surprise you and change your life. I know that’s what it did for me.
Image Copyright: Micah Taylorby