taking the words of Jesus seriously

Do you think God loves you most when you’re good, and less when you’re bad?
Do you think God loves you lots, and your enemies a bit less?
Do you think God doesn’t love some people at all?
Do you think God doesn’t love you?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you might be agapephobic. Agapephobia is the fear of God’s love. If you have it, you should know that it isn’t rare, but you should also know than it can be contagious. The good news is that you can increase in your agape, and that can be contagious, too.

There’s an old saying amongst physicists: if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you probably don’t understand it at all. I suspect the same thing could be said of God’s love for us.

Love is probably the thing we do worst of all. “God is love”. (1 John 4:8) What we’re getting wrong with hatred and intolerance and fear and loathing and prejudice and racism and violence and bigotry is the essence of God.

This is big. We are missing the target. Why?

I suspect because it’s hard. It’s not a little hard. It’s not be-nice-to-the-people-on-your-street hard. It’s not be-nice-to-your-crazy-uncle hard. It’s love your enemies. It’s love people who wish you didn’t exist. It’s love people who would try to kill you.

Why should you love all of these people? Because God loves them, and you are supposed to try to be like God.

Also by John: The Gift of Receiving

People find the stories of this kind of love difficult. Why is the father so happy about the prodigal son’s return? Isn’t his other son more deserving? Why does the shepherd leave the ninety-nine sheep to go searching for one? Don’t the good sheep deserve the care of their shepherd? All of this points to a bigger question, which often goes unasked:

Didn’t Jesus deserve better than the cross?

There it is. The cross. That is God’s love for us. That is God’s sense of our worth.

I have a son. I would not trade my son for anything. It is difficult for me to even grasp that that might be a flaw. That is how far I am from getting it. The cross is fine until you give it any context at all. Then, it totally overwhelms you. An old figurative term for “overwhelm” is “baptise”. Agape baptises you.

In order to grasp some small part of God’s love, you have to understand that it’s infinite, and for everybody. God didn’t create one part of humanity to love, and another to destroy. He loves us all. Our problems with each other are our own.

How do we solve them and move on to love? The answer is in the question. In fact, I suspect the answer to that question is the answer to every question.

When you have a problem, ask this:

How does love solve this?

Every answer you find is another step toward God.

John Watson discovered Jesus’ footprints late in life, and has been joyfully trying to negotiate The Way ever since. He is a musician and educator, living in Maidstone, in the south-east of England, with his wife and two children.

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