2460) Prepare to Meet Your God (2 of 3)

Fickle Feelings | Focal Point Ministries


By Greg Morse

     (…continued)  Many are content with God’s love consisting in only tender kindness and unbroken gentleness.  They wish for his love to be wholly devoted to their immediate happiness — however they choose to seek it.  Tenderness seems to be the unimpeachable disposition some imagine of God.  Tender toward our dreams.  Tender toward our desires.  Tender toward our bank accounts and sins.  This “god of love” takes no miracle of grace to adore; the atheist doesn’t mind this God.

     Yet God’s love, as found in the Bible, is a fire that consumes dross, a chisel that molds into his own perfection, an eternal embrace that chokes out all rivals, a sharp scalpel intended to give real life and strong happiness far beyond the grave.  This love has greater aims than our comfort, our health, or our safety — in this life.  This love is fiercer and deeper than we often assume, better and stronger than we often want.  This love can harm us, and this love can kill us.

     God’s love does not orbit around our felt needs.  He has our best, not our easiest, in mind.  His love — dangerous, jealous, possessive — is the love that will consistently wound us to save us.

     Have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:5–6)

     “Chastises” here can be translated “scourges” or “whips.”  It is something to endure.  Something unpleasant and rather painful.  Something we wouldn’t sign up for.  Something we’re tempted to despise.  Something that doesn’t feel tender, gentle, or loving in the moment.  But his whippings are just that.  Look at the text.

     God strikes those he loves and harms every son whom he receives.  He doesn’t discipline Satan’s children, only his own (Hebrews 12:8).  These undesirable corrections, these marks of adoption, bring us to “share his holiness” and enjoy that “peaceful fruit of righteousness” leading to eternal life (Hebrews 12:10–11).

     His love has sharp edges — not to destroy us, but to sever us from all that threatens to.  Instead of what we often perceive to be the stormings of our angry God, proof of his disgust with us, these corrections are, in fact, the unlikely evidences of his love.   As Calvin put it:

It is an inestimable consolation — that the punishments by which our sins are chastened are evidences, not of God’s anger for our destruction, but rather of his paternal love, and are at the same time of assistance towards our salvation, for God is angry with us as his sons, whom he will not leave to perish.

     He will not leave us to perish.  When we wander toward cliffs, he corrals us with his rod back toward heaven.  What feels to be the glory of the “god of love” — being left to our own way — is, in reality, his wrath, which bears the refrain: “God gave them up . . . gave them up . . . gave them up” (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).

     That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. . . . But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:30, 32)

     God’s love does not sit by quietly, contentedly, while we wander off into destruction.  It does not stand by and watch his bride play the whore.  It finds us.  Redeems us.  Washes us.  Transforms us.  Disciplines us.  And sometimes it kills us.

     Such love came unrequested to some Corinthians.  They began to eat the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.  They did not examine themselves.  They ate and drank judgment.  How did God respond?  “That is why,” the apostle explains, “many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”  Some were sick due to God’s discipline.  Some were weak.  Others died.  Funerals were held because of God’s discipling his church.

     Why would we be disciplined, even unto death?  “So that we may not be condemned along with the world.”  There is something worse even than death.  God’s love sometimes stops our breath to save our souls.  This love, unlike our puddle-deep assumptions, is an ocean, raging and beautiful.  If God loved us like we love us, we would be lost. (continued…)


Grant, almighty God, that since the dullness and harshness of our flesh is so great that it is needful for us in various ways to be afflicted, we may patiently bear your chastisement, and under a deep feeling of sorrow flee to your mercy displayed to us in Christ; and that, not depending upon the earthly blessings of this perishable life, but relying only upon your Word, we may go forward in the course of our calling; until at length we are gathered to that blessed rest which is laid up for us in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  

–John Calvin

Help me, O Lord, to make a true use of all disappointments and calamities in this life, in such a way that they may unite my heart more closely with you.  Cause them to separate my affections from worldly things and inspire my soul with more vigor in the pursuit of true happiness.  Amen.

–Susanna Wesley (1669-1742), mother of John and Charles Wesley