Sunday, January 11, 2009

The mystery of God’s love

The mystery of God’s love
1. “’Consider our little friend here (blue jay),’ she (Papa) began. ‘Most birds were created to fly. Being grounded for them is a limitation within their ability to fly, not the other way around. You, on the other hand, were created to be loved. So for you to live as if you were unloved is a limitation, not the other way around. Living unloved is like clipping a bird’s wings and removing its ability to fly. Not something I want for you.” (pg. 97)

Q. “You were created to be loved.” The Bible describes us as, “Those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:1) Why is it important to know, and really believe, that we were created to be loved? Why do we live as if we are unloved?

Q. What has God done to show his love to us? (See John 3:16, Ephesians 5:25, 1 John 4:10)

Q. What has made you question God’s love? How do circumstances in your life affect your belief in God’s love?

Q. How do humans (family, friends, other Christians) affect your confidence in God’s love for you?

Q. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) If you could fully accept the truth of these words, how would it change your identity? How could it help you ‘fly?’
2. “’You do understand,’ she continued, ‘that unless I had an object to love – or more accurately, a someone to love – if I did not have such a relationship within myself, then I would not be capable of love at all? You would have a god who could not love. Or maybe worse, you would have a god who, when he chose, could only love as a limitation of his nature. That kind of god could possibly act without love, and that would be a disaster. And that is surely not me. …The God who is – the I am who I am – cannot act apart from love.’” (pg.102)

Q. Why is it so important that one of God’s attributes is love? How might this world be a different place if God could only love ‘as a limitation of his nature’ rather than as a essential part of who he is?

Q. What is love? Webster defines it as “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as in the fatherly concern of God for humankind.” We usually think of a loving parent as someone who provides everything we need and protects us from harm. How does this compare to your experience of God’s love in your life?

Q. The Apostle John wrote, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” (1 John 4:7-9) Based on God’s gift of his son to this world, how does God define love?

Q. How does the assurance that God ‘cannot act apart from love’ affect your relationship with him?
3. “’ I’m so sorry that you, that Jesus, had to die.’
She walked around the table and gave Mack another big hug. ‘I know you are, and thank you. But you need to know that we aren’t sorry at all. It was worth it. Isn’t that right son?’
‘Absolutely!’ He (Jesus) paused and then looked at Mack. ‘And I would have done it even if it were only for you, but it wasn’t!’ he said with an inviting grin.” (pg. 103)

Q. Why did Jesus have to die?

Q. What does every person for who Jesus died have to realize to benefit from his sacrifice?

Q. The Prophet Isaiah wrote about Jesus’ death on the cross in Isaiah 53:11, “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.” Jesus looks at those who have been delivered from eternal judgment by his tortured sacrifice on the cross and says we were worth it - worth the anguish, the pain, the awful judgment of God for our sins, worth death. How does knowing that God values you this much make you feel about yourself?
4. “’Why do you love us humans? I suppose, I…’ As he spoke he (Mack) realized he hadn’t formed his question very well. ‘I guess what I want to ask, is why do you love me, when I have nothing to offer you.’
‘If you think about it, Mack,’ Jesus answered, ‘it should be very freeing to know that you can offer us nothing, at least not anything that can add or take away from who we are…That should alleviate any pressure to perform.’
‘And do you love your own children more when they perform well?’ added Papa.
‘No, I see your point.’ Mack paused. ‘But I do feel more fulfilled because they are in my life – do you?’
‘No,’ said Papa. ‘We are already fully fulfilled within ourself. You are designed to be in community as well, made as you are in our very image. So for you to feel that way about your children, or anything that ‘adds’ to you, is perfectly natural and right.”

Q. Why does God love us humans?

Q. How does a clear understanding of God’s love ‘alleviate any pressure to perform?

Q. Is there anything we can add to God when we respond to his love? Why or why not?

Q. How is our love different from God’s love?

Q. Is it possible for us to be completely fulfilled by experiencing God’s love more deeply? (See Ephesians 3:14-20)


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