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God So Loved The World

John 3:16 contains the most revolutionary words in theology.

“God so LOVES the world…” No ifs, ands, or buts about it. God LOVES you. To put in the words of “The Shack” – “God is especially fond of you.

Many people simply do not believe God is actually THAT GOOD. There must be a caveat, some fine print, some quid pro quo. NOPE.

Lots of preachers and teachers of religion will tell you that you must do something, believe something, accept some doctrinal formula, etc. in order to EARN God’s love. NOPE. God just loves you. Period.

Lot’s of people find it hard to believe God is that good. Usually these people are bitter, angry, hurtful, and judgmental. Not being able to receive love, they have a hard time sharing love.

Jesus favorite word for God was “abba” or “daddy” or “papa.” The Apostle Paul teaches that those who are aware of the magnitude of God’s love are so overwhelmed that they discover that the Spirit has filled them with the kind of JOY that wells up in the awareness that GOD is truly “Papa.” Aware of God’s love, we “cry out abba.”

This causes some folk to bristle. They want a judgmental God, a stern God, and God who kicks butt and takes name. You can tell who these people are, cause they tend to be judgmental, stern, and act like they have been ordained to kick butt and take names.

But that is NOT the Papa revealed in Jesus Christ.

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”

This is not something Papa did to Jesus. Papa, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are ONE in their love and passion. They are ONE as God. So the SON proceeded from the Father, and from the Spirit, and by the volition of his (Jesus) own will to REVEAL God’s love.

This is not a theory of atonement that can be boiled down into a doctrinal statement. It’s not “ransom theory,” or “penal substitutionary atonement,” or “moral influence,” or anything like that. It is simply God revealing God’s nature, heart, and passion. Jesus came to reveal in human flesh (as a human being) what God is really like.

If you think of the Trinity as God being some multiple personality deity, then you have missed the point. Jesus did not come to appease God’s wrath or to assuage God’s anger. Jesus came to reveal the heart of the God who is Papa and who is “especially fond of you.”

Jesus said: “If you have seen me, you have seen the Papa.” He said, “Papa and me are one.” Their is no conflict, lines of demarcation, or border walls between Jesus, the Father, or the Spirit. The Trinitarian picture of God is a vision of a relationship driven God who wants us to know that we are liked, loved, accepted, and included. WE ARE LOVED. “Papa is especially fond of us.”

I wrote a FB status the other day that said: “Hurt people hurt people. Healed people heal people. If you leave love in your wake, you are healed. If you leave emotional carnage behind you, you are not well.”

LOVE heals. If you believe that you are LOVED by God, you will become more and more accustomed to loving. That does not mean affirming a doctrinal statement that says, “God is love.” That’s not bad, but that is not really faith. LOVE heals as you let yourself be embraced by it. Jesus came to reveal the loving embrace of grace. He came to reveal Papa’s love for you.

When John 3:16 says “whosoever believes in him, will not perish, but will have eternal live,” is it not proscribing a mental assertion to a doctrinal formula. Nor is there some sort of implied threat that if you do not sign on the dotted line that you will be dammed to eternal hell-fire. Rather, the call to BELIEVE in an invitation to God’s embrace. It is an invitation to believe that God really is that good…even better, in fact.

Eternal life in biblical terms is not about duration one place over duration in another. Jesus said: “This is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”.

Eternal life is the quality of being in relationship, intimacy, fellowship, love. If you do not believe that God is really THAT GOOD, you will live outside that very close friendship that God desires to experience with you. As such, you will be constantly burdened to EARN God’s favor. As such, you will be very judgmental toward others. As such, you will be so hurt in life that carnage will be left in the wake of your relationship. As such, you will often feel like the victim (of God, of others). As such, you will probably bristle at the notion that God can be like a Papa who embraces you with love.

The love of God is far more radical and inclusive than you can imagine. It even includes you. BELIEVE THAT and you will know life better than you ever imagined possible.

The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity
by: William P. Young
publisher: Windblown Media, published: 2007-07-01
ASIN: 0964729237
EAN: 9780964729230
sales rank: 3
price: $5.00 (new), $2.00 (used)

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!

The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream
by: C. Baxter Kruger
publisher: FaithWords, published: 2012-10-02
ASIN: 1455516805
EAN: 9781455516803
sales rank: 909
price: $8.59 (new), $8.72 (used)

Millions have found their spiritual hunger satisfied by William P. Young’s #1 New York Times bestseller, The Shack–the story of a man lifted from the depths of despair through his life-altering encounter with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Now C. Baxter Kruger’s THE SHACK REVISITED guides readers into a deeper understanding of these three persons to help readers have a more profound connection with the core message of The Shack–that God is love.

An early fan of The Shack and a close friend to its author, Kruger shows why the novel has been enthusiastically embraced by so many Christians worldwide. In the words of William P. Young from the foreword to THE SHACK REVISITED, “Baxter Kruger will stun readers with his unique cross of intellectual brilliance and creative genius as he takes them deeper into the wonder, worship, and possibility that is the world of The Shack.”

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