For God So Loved The World…

“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” opens a famous 18th century hymn written by Charles Wesley. It is a sentiment that permeates much of modern thinking about Jesus, and yes, even some Christian thinking. “Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb” he also wrote in the hymn.

It is the idea of a soft, almost cuddly, Jesus, who would never dare to upset anyone, to challenge anyone, or to disagree with anyone, lest they be hurt and offended.

Of course, He is a God of love, so He is always careful not to offend. Isn’t He??

What do we think of when our thoughts turn to God’s love? Is it this ‘wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly’ Jesus?

How different this is to the Jesus that the Bible reveals. The Jesus of the Bible – the Lamb of God – is no cute and cuddly lamb. He fearlessly stood up to injustice. He was unwaveringly critical of hypocrisy.

Yes, He was gentle – gentle with the hurting, the broken, the rejected, the lost, the repentant. But He never gave an inch to the self-righteous, the proud, the arrogant.

And that’s what love – real love, genuine love – is like. Real love demands nothing less than the best for the one loved. Genuine love relentlessly opposes anything that would harm, corrupt, or damage.

When John wrote ”God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” [John 3:16a], he wasn’t thinking of something wishy-washy and sentimental.

There is nothing sloppy, or sentimental, or even remotely romantic about God’s love. God’s love is fierce. God’s love is relentless. God’s love is righteous, holy – even furious in its force.

God’s love is His settled decision and determination to accept nothing less than the best for His loved ones. And sin is far from the best for us.

When God sets His love on a person, they are loved, and they remain loved. God doesn’t withdraw His love from His chosen ones, as if He were a sulky teenager who had an argument with his girlfriend.

God set His love on us before the foundation of the world. He already knew our sin and rebellion before we were ever born. Our sin didn’t take God by surprise.

But neither will His love turn a blind eye to our sin, or to sin committed against us, for that matter. Real love doesn’t do that. His love will not tolerate sin. His love will deal with sin.

And it did. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to deal with sin, once-and-for-all. It was “while we were still sinners that Christ died for us” [Rom 5:8].

This sort of love is not wishy-washy. The Father – in love – sent His Son. The Son – in love – came willingly to live, to suffer, to die.

Have you ever noticed that no one took Jesus’ life from Him. He laid it down. He was in control every step of the way.

A fierce, powerful, relentless love like this is a love we can rely on. We don’t need to chase after an emotional buzz to know we are loved. We don’t even need to “seek the anointing” to know we are loved.

We only need to look to the cross to see the demonstration of God’s love for us.

The cross; a real event in real human history that demonstrates real love and provides a real salvation – for those who would believe.

If you’re ever tempted to question God’s love for you, you don’t need to look inside, or look for emotional highs. After all, our emotions are notoriously fickle.

No, you need only to look to the cross. For there is proof positive that God loved, and loves still. “… whoever believes in Him (Jesus Christ) will not perish but have eternal life” [John 3:16b].

They would never have killed Jesus for being gentle, meek and mild. They killed Him because He exposed them for what they truly were; hypocrites, liars, murderers, cheats, adulterers.

I thank God that He is more – much more – than “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” I hope you do too.

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