“We See God’s Love”
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
Back in 2003 Thrivent Financial produced a movie about Martin Luther. I don’t know how many of you saw this movie, but one scene that stuck out to me is when a young child took his own life. The father asked Luther what God had to say about suicide. The caretaker of the church’s graveyard refused to bury the child, but Luther did. He told the parents that God is mercy. Although, according to my knowledge and education, we have no example of Luther doing this, the scene illustrates a point about the Reformation.
In the very next scene Luther is preaching to his congregation and he says, “Terrible, unforgiving, that’s how I saw God, punishing us in this life, sentencing sinners to burn in hell for all eternity. But I was wrong. Those who see God as angry do not see him rightly. If we believe that Christ is our Savior then we have a God of love, and to see God in faith is to look upon his friendly heart.”
Luther spent the first thirty years of his life viewing God as being angry against him because he was a sinner. If we lived our lives that way we would view God as being hateful since he demands us to follow his law perfectly even though we can’t. Or we may view God as being hateful because he doesn’t do everything according to our thinking. If God only treated us according to his law or didn’t do everything according to our own thinking, then the only conclusion we can have is that God is not a God of love.
We shouldn’t have a God of love, but we do! That’s what this passage from 1 John emphasizes. Think of how we see God’s love in our lives. We see God’s love in simple things. Perhaps randomly out of nowhere something good happens to you and you don’t know exactly why: that’s an example of God’s love. We see God’s love in significant ways. Maybe you have had a loved one who is sick and dying and the doctors tell you that they have done everything for that loved one but they will pass away. But then your loved one lives: that’s an example of God’s love. We see God’s love in personal ways. There are times when we offer our prayers to God and he answers our prayers exactly as we have asked: that’s an example of God’s love. We see God’s love in the ultimate way. He sent his Son to save us from our sins: this is God’s love.
As we view God through faith we no longer view God according to our thoughts but according to his good and loving will. Through faith we no longer see a God of hatred but a God of love who no longer sees us as sinners but as his perfect children. This is the main message of the Reformation; as we celebrate the Reformation this October let us continue to rejoice that we have a God of love and share this God of love to all people.
- Pastor Neal Behm