Experiencing God’s Love Through Violence

How much does God love you?

I was reading a passage from John 17 this morning that caused me to stop and wonder about the incredible love of God. In verses 22 and 23 Jesus is praying for our unity, saying “…that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

In case you missed it, Jesus said that God loves you and I to the same degree that he loves his own son. He loves you just as much as he loves Jesus.

This is a staggering thought. You and I are filled with sin—the thing that God hates the most. In our natural selves we rebel against God. Yet Jesus says that God loves us to no greater or less degree than he loves his own perfect, holy, sinless, eternal son. Yet here’s the kicker…

God’s love for his son did not prevent him from sending Jesus to the cross.

How much does God love us? He loves us in the same degree he loves Jesus. How was his love expressed? Through the violence and suffering of the cross.

In our modern world we wonder if God loves us if we must suffer to any degree, or if our bellies aren’t full. When we face real tragedy like the death of a loved one, loss of a child, or persecution, we doubt God’s love. But just like Jesus’ death on the cross, it may be that the suffering endured is actually an expression of God’s love.

I was 19-years-old when I received Christ. About four months prior I was sitting on my motorcycle in front of a nightclub. Two men came up to me from behind and smashed me in the head with clubs. My jaw was broken. My head swollen. If the impact had been just a little different, say right on the temple instead of my eyebrow, I might not be here today. I suffered in the hospital after the surgeon put my jaw back together. I suffered for another six weeks at home, unable to eat with my jaw wired shut. Yet as I experienced these things God was beginning to grab hold of my life until just four months after the incident I bowed my knees in submission to Christ. Had I not had that time of suffering I would not have explored my spiritual condition. Through suffering and violence God revealed his love to me.

As Jesus endured the cross God was expressing his love for us. As you and I suffer from time to time, perhaps God’s plan is to use our suffering as an expression of his love for someone else.

Right now, how much does God love you? Do you want to be unified with Christ as Jesus prayed in John 17? To what degree do you want to experience God’s love? Your answers will reveal whether or not you are growing in the fullness of God’s love.

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