Back in the 1980s, I wrote and directed with the Drama Ministry at the church I attended. One year, three of us collaborated on a musical depicting Christ’s earthly ministry. I didn’t write the Last Supper scene, but the person who did write it included a hauntingly beautiful song entitled “How Can He Love Me?” The actor portraying John (the beloved disciple) sang it to expresses his amazement that Jesus loved him.
I don’t think many Christians wonder how the Lord could love them. The idea that God loves us is pretty much a given, even among people who don’t profess to be Christians. And in evangelical circles, we find it a little too easy to take His love for granted.
I know I do. Hopefully you’re honest enough to admit that you struggle with the temptation to have a lackadaisical attitude towards His love.
Why have we lost our sense of awe that God would love us? In pondering that question, I’ve come up with a two-pronged answer. Put simply, we’ve lost an understanding of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.
In the past several decades, evangelicals have emphasized the idea of a personal relationship with God to such an extent that we practically forget His majesty and grandeur. Occasionally, we’ll sing hymns like “How Great Thou Art” and give momentary thought to the fact that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, but most of the time we see Him as so much less than that.
Case in point: Yesterday morning one of the new Personal Care Attendants called to say she didn’t like the job and wasn’t coming back. (Little did I know that a former PCA had emailed after I’d shut my computer down to ask if I still needed help.) Rather than humbly trusting the Lord to accomplish His purposes in my life through the situation, I shook a metaphorical fist at Him. How dare He put me back in the trial He had just taken away? Didn’t He realize that I’m a tired old lady who deserves a respite from the attendant care struggles I’d been having since February?
My outrage betrayed my lack of reverence. Didn’t I realize that I was shaking my fist at the One Who rules all creation (Colossians 1:15-17). Didn’t He have every right to put me back in that trial until He saw fit to deliver me from it? Wasn’t I created to serve and honor Him?
Yet He acted in love towards me, despite my rebellious sputtering and fuming. I very much deserved His wrath for speaking to Him so disrespectfully. Instead, being my loving Heavenly Father, He graciously provided for my need. And I sit here wondering why He shows such love to a disrespectful child like me.
King David also had difficulty understanding why the Lord would love any human being. It amazed him that the One Who filled the heavens would actually care for human beings, even giving us the highest position over all the other creatures of the earth! You can’t read Psalm 8 without seeing that David was flabbergasted by God’s love for humanity.
O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
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9 O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!