Have you contemplated the unconditional love of God lately. This is something that we talk about, we might give mention to, and we are aware of Bible verses. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). It is the unconditional love of God that has the power to transform souls, but have you ever really thought about that? How is it that God displays His love? Recognize that the answer to this question has the capacity to give us victory, increase our ranks, and change the world. It will draw all men (John 12:32).
Within a few months of my baptism I was working in a health food store and restaurant in Redlands, California. It was quite the experience. We had different rushes, when groups of people would come through and eat. First thing in the morning came all the healthy eating folks that worked in the business district, looking for a fresh juice and a healthy breakfast. After they left, we had a group of high school kids that would come through, but these weren’t average teenagers. These were Gothic kids, all dressed in black, many with well over a dozen piercings in their head, black lipstick, colored hair, etc. I was amazed how interested they were in health, and most were vegan and quite serious about it. One of the owners of the restaurant had a suit shop down the street. He is a good Christian man who loves people, but he would see these kids in the restaurant and tell me, “Steve you have to get these kids out of the restaurant, they’ll ruin the business.”
They weren’t though; they were buying juices, buying food, and teaching me a valuable lesson. They were spending money, thereby keeping our lights on, and they were also teaching me to see the value of their souls. I was standoffish at first, because I just didn’t know them. But as they came in day after day, I learned their names and they knew mine. We would engage in really deep conversations, and we even developed such a friendship that when they found a food on our shelves that had a bad ingredient, we would have a ceremonial destruction of the food (I let them dump it in the trash or pour it down the sink). All in all, we became friends. I wasn’t there long enough to see any one of them come to the church, or see any baptized, but I know that I left a positive imprint in their minds of what a Christian is, and if others will just be consistent in representing Christ, that He’ll get them.
It was love for them because I saw value in them that I reached out. I had received the gift of salvation and it changed my life. I wanted to give that same gift to everyone I met. I saw in the face of my Savior His love and acceptance of me and it drew me to Him. I was helpless in His pursuit of me. Understanding His intentions and desires toward me gave me such boldness to approach Him, and in the approach it got thicker and deeper to where there was no way out.
Seeing the Invisible
We need a clearer vision of God. We need a greater revelation of Him. I am convinced that the revelation of Jesus Christ being God is not the greatest revelation of the New Testament. It is the revelation that God is like Jesus. They are the same. We don’t have an angry Father and a nice Brother. The character of one is not different from the other. When we see Jesus, we have seen the Father (John 14:9).
He looks into the faces of all of us with love. He knew that when we were without strength and ungodly, and while we were in the midst of sinning, He died for us (Romans 5:6, 8). He reconciled us while we were enemies with Him. We fought against Him, and yet He didn’t manifest anger or frustration, but said: Just wait until they understand that I love them and they’ll stop fighting it (Romans 5:10).
It is God’s love that is laid on the line. He says that when they understand that I am love, they will run to me. “God is love” (1 John 4:8). We use love as a verb, He uses it as a noun. We talk about God and we say He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. That is not God; those are just attributes. Philippians 2:7 says of Jesus that He emptied himself. He humbled, divested, relinquished, however you want to look at it. He left something behind. He couldn’t be everywhere at once, he was stuck in a body in Palestine, and that’s why he said, “It was expedient for you that I go away,” so that soon, “I will come to you” (John 16:7; 14:18). He “increased in wisdom” (Luke 2:52). How does omniscience grow in wisdom? He left those things behind, but there was one thing He took with Him. That is who He is, His identity, His nature, character, and authority that is who God is and, Jesus knew that was enough.
He draws us to Himself through a revelation of His nature, character, and authority. That is His name. That is the name He puts on us, and that is what we are to represent. We lighten the world through a revelation of the nature, character, and authority of God. This is His glory. This is what Moses wanted to see in Exodus 33:18, and God Himself declares His glory to be: “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6, 7). This is the character that is represented in contrast to religion in Isaiah 58:6-10:
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.” His character is His glory, and it is His character that dispels the gross darkness depicted in Isaiah 60:2 that is attempting to cover the earth.
God is Love, and He looks into the eyes of each of us, on our worst day, and says, “I want you; I see so much potential in you. Can I have you?” Our Father might still be looking into your eyes. Let Him have you. If we will let Him possess our lives, He will manifest Himself to the world through us.
This is His intention toward each and every one of us. He is not looking at any of us and saying, “This one is bruised,” or “This one is scratched and full of holes.” To each one of us it is a “Yes, I’ll take you,” never a “No.” This love cannot be talked about to be experienced. We have to empty ourselves, give ourselves over to abandonment, and let the fire of heaven consume and fill us.
One of the grandest revelations of the love of God is that it is always toward us; our life has enough value and worth to be exchanged with that of the Son of God. His love will always be toward us; nothing can separate us, even if we run away and go back to a life of sin. His love is always constant, it is always yay and never nay. His love never fails, and, though we make mistakes, He is still in our favor. It is the unconditional love of God that will draw ALL men, not SOME men. So the only thing that can prevent all men from being drawn to Christ, the only thing, is the vehicle through which He is being represented. His love never changes; neither should ours when men don’t see things the same way we do. All men will be drawn when we stop robbing the world of the revelation of who the God of the universe actually is.
Recognize that the love that He has toward us is the same love He has toward any Goth or drug addict, the movie star or porn addict, the one caught in adultery or the wife beater. He can look at each of them; He can look each one squarely in the eye even in the midst of sin, and say, “I want you.”
God can look in the face of a man covered head to toe with tattoos, and He doesn’t say, “I would have taken you but…” It is always a “Yes.” Someone can have gauges (holes) in their ears, cheeks, and nose, and He still says, “Can I have you?”
Christ can take the person that has been marred and molested beyond recognition by Satan, and not only does He still want that person, but He says, “The one that did this to you is going to really be sorry he did this to you.” Jesus says, “If the devil knew what my plans are for you, he would have stayed so far away from you, because what he used to destroy you has actually made you so much stronger, and I will use it to deliver so many others from his kingdom. He will pay, and it will be glorious.”
We need to understand who our enemy is. It is not any church. It is not any political party or ethnicity. It is not a doctrine but a devil, and how he drove us from God through guilt and shame; how he marred our characters from the glory of God to that of his own selfish character. Satan is our enemy, along with the mystery of Iniquity that he wove into our hearts. Christ will consume that iniquity and replace it with Himself.
Jesus has reconciled us and written His name on our hearts. He has put His mind in us, and it is His glory, His character, nature, and authority that we are to lighten the world with.
With Christ there is no distinction of person (Acts 10:34), all of us are brethren (Matthew 23:8), we are all priests (Exodus 19:6). God has no preference black or white. He makes no distinction between race and class. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). What draws and what repels? Jesus! Jesus draws! I think we mix things up and, instead of the love of Christ drawing souls, people see our rules and regulations. They see that we have burdens, shame, and guilt no different from themselves, so they say, “What’s the point?” They don’t want to hear about our rules; they don’t want a twelve-step program or strategies on how to manage stress. But if they would see Jesus, watch out! If they would see Jesus, He would draw them to Himself and they would then join with us in lighting the world with His glory.
An Amazing Gift
Have you ever received a really good gift? The joy and excitement that it brings! There is a built-in desire to show everyone what you got. If you don’t really want to take it for a test drive, if you don’t want to show anyone your new shoes, or whatever, that means it really wasn’t a good gift. Maybe your parents knew you wanted the Jordans that everyone was wearing, but they weren’t about to spend $150 for a pair of shoes so they got you a cheap knockoff for $35. They look similar, but there is a difference: they aren’t Jordans, they are Gordans and the color might be slightly off. They look similar but there is something about those Jordans that made you want them, made you want to wear them around, and yet the Gordans would get hidden at the bottom of the locker and only pulled out when it was time for PE.
Christianity is no different. Jesus said that His glory would lighten the world, yet most of us don’t want to lighten our own neighborhood. If you had a really good gift that brought untold peace, love, and joy; a gift that brought life and liberty eternally and there was no limit, the resource was limitless, you would take that gift and give it to everyone you know. You would share the gift, and you would receive such joy every time somebody opened the box. But we’re not like that with the gift of salvation, and the reason is that we don’t appreciate our gift. We don’t want to share it because we ultimately find little joy or value in it; our color gets a bit off, and we become just a hue of the man or woman that God created us to be. We ultimately don’t like the burden that we are bearing or the false standard that we measure ourselves up against.
The unnecessary guilt and shame that we bear on our own shoulders because we have misunderstood the nature of our gift gets the name all messed up and causes us to hide and to pull away. Many of us will spend hours reading and studying our Bibles. Most of the time we are doing so because we know we have missed it somewhere, and we are trying to convince ourselves that we are right. We have fallen into a trap. The devil has isolated us away from the world, so we will have little impact on it, and all because we misunderstood the gift. We might unpackage the gift for a few hours each week or when necessary, but this was never God’s intent. We are to be changed “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Man was created in glory and for glory (Isaiah 43:7).
There is no trial too big and no soul without value. No child is a mistake and no life is worthless, but all were created with the definite loving intent that they would become the Sons of God. That is what the world has been waiting for, the manifestation of this glory (Romans 8:22, 19).
God loves you and so do I!
(Steve writes from his home in Stanton, Kentucky. He is the administrator of a lifestyle center called Home for Health. You can call him at 606-663-6671, or email him at Steve@Home-forHealth.net (no hyphen). His website is www.homeforhealth.net. Editor)