The truth about God's love
By Dr. Bascom Ratliff, Pastor
Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches
The inspiration for today’s message comes from John 3: 16-18.
During a recent discussion in my Bible study, several members had questions about the notion that God’s love is unconditional. My response was that God’s divine love is unfailing, perfect, and enduring. It is not “unconditional.” There are no unconditional blessings. God expects and demands obedience to his word. Obedience and submission to God’s will brings blessings and salvation.
To be clear: God’s love, grace, and mercy are undeserved. We get access to these gifts through the blood of Jesus Christ. Accepting and following a risen Jesus keeps the pipeline of spiritual gifts open. It also prompts us to follow his guidance and do “the right thing” by loving and caring for others.
Why is this distinction about love important? It is simply because God fully expects a response from us. God’s love comes with requirements. To simply say that God unconditionally loves me without any expectation of my acting on God’s love is wrong. True, God says he loves us and that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ Jesus. However, we are also asked to obey and trust in God’s will. If we choose to reject God, he may still love and care for us, but our redemption and salvation are lost.
God’s blessings that come through obedience and submission to his word come with some fairly straightforward expectations. Several of these are found in Matthew chapter 5. For example, during his message, Jesus tells us that we are blessed when we mourn, are merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers. Also in Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that when we give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and clothing to the naked, it is the same as though we are doing it for him. And Jesus tells his followers that the greatest commandments are to love God and love others. To me, these sound a lot like conditions.
The idea of obedience and God’s blessings are extremely important in our Christian living. It makes no sense to tell someone that we love them but are not willing to forgive them or provide them with basic necessities. It makes no sense to tell someone we love them and then reject them because they are different. Jesus makes no distinctions. He tells us simply to love others. He tells us to care for others. He tells us that, in doing so, we are demonstrating our love and care for him. When we are merciful and forgiving of others, we are demonstrating our obedience to a loving God and a deep appreciation for God’s undeserved love and blessings.
Obedient and Authentic Service to Christ.
If you want to hear more about God’s wonderful promise of unfailing love and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, please come and worship with us.
We will worship at the Beagle United Methodist Church during August.
We will worship at the Fontana UMC during September.
We will worship at the Parker UMC during October.
All services are at 10 a.m.
All are welcome in God’s House.
Dr. Bascom Ratliff (913-710-5748)
United Methodist Churches