1 John 4: 16
We've been in a series on getting to know God. Many people reject God before they even know Him. We've looked at different attributes of God.Today we will conclude this series looking at the Love of God."We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love." The most talked aboutattribute of God is probably the one that is most misunderstood. Don't confuse this. It says,
"God is love" - doesn't say "Love is God". There's a big difference. Same difference as saying"My dog is a girl" or "My girl is a dog." This does not mean that God lets me get away withmurder. I do anything I want to and because God loves me He just slaps me on the wrist. Whatit means is that God wants what's best for you. He's for you. He's not against you.
If that's true, then why do so many people avoid God? Many people run from Him. The reason they do that is because of a fear. They're afraid of what mighthappen if they really give their life to God. They're hesitant. They want to keep a safe distance.I want to give you 3 common fears – reasons people don't get to know God.
WHY PEOPLE AVOID GOD -
FEAR #1: I'm afraid that I'll have to give up my fun.
To become a Christian equals the party's over. To be spiritual is to be miserable.We don't want to give up our fun. Which sounds like more fun to you? Miller time or Church time? Television has sold us a lie that says, if you buy our product you'll be happy.But the thrill wears off. If you know God it is so much better than that.
Think about a Singles Bar. Have you ever seen a more false place than a Singles Bar? Everybody's pretending they're having a good time. Where elsedo you walk up to a stranger and offer to buy them something? "Can I buy you a drink?" Do youwalk up to someone in a shop and say, "Can I buy you a toaster?" That's fun?
The way you fight fear is with fact and look at what the fact says: 1 Timothy 6:17 "God richlyprovides us with everything for our enjoyment." God wants you to enjoy life. He doesn't want totake your fun away. Jesus spoke more about being happy than He did about heaven.
Matthew11:19 (Phillips) says, "Jesus came enjoying life." Fun is a clear conscience. Fun is a happy,united family. Fun is laughing in church. Fun is having friends who don't manipulate youbecause they're Christians. Fun is enjoying the world that God has made. That's fun!
FEAR #2: I'm afraid I'll become a fanatic
Often well-meaning and misguided people tend to cause us to avoid God because of theirfanaticism. Here are some religious fanatics -
Freddy the Pharisee. Rigid, narrow minded, legalistic. He has a rule for everything. Hisfavourite word is "don't". Some think "Will I become like that if I become a Christian?"Susie Self-righteous. Holier than thou attitude, judgmental of others. Her favorite phrase is"Thank God I'm not like you!" Am I going to become like that if I get toknow God?Billy Bible thumper. Obnoxious, overzealous crusader. If it's alive he'll convert it. Hisfavorite phrase: "Turn or burn!"
Pauline Praise-alluia. She can't speak without religious cliches.
The fact is John 10:10 "I have come that you might have life and have it to thefullest!" Jesus' harshest criticism went to religious fanatics. God doesn't want to make you some kind of fanatic.
FEAR #3: I’m afraid that I'll lose my freedom.
The world defines freedom as a life without any restraint - do anything I want to do, say anythingI want to say. "I did it my way!" Everybody got burned by me, but I did it my way! I left 5 marriagesbehind but I did it my way! Total selfishness! I had my freedom!
What has sexual freedom given us? AIDS, social diseases, abortions. What has chemical freedomgiven us? School drug addicts. What hascredit freedom given us? 146 easy payments. There is no such thing as an easy payment.
You are not as free as you think you are. The Bible teaches that with every choice you makethere are consequences. You are free to live anyway you want to live. But once you make thatchoice you are no longer free. What you sow you will reap.
What does the Bible say about freedom? John 8:36 Jesus "If the son sets you free, you willbe really free!" Realfreedom is freedom from guilt, from worry, from bitterness, from fear of death, free to be myself, free to stop pretending - that's real freedom. How do youget rid of those kinds of fears?
1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives our fear." The antidote to fear is torecognize how much God loves you. Love and fear can't exist in the same heart. When yourealize how much God loves you, you're not going to have a fear of becoming a fanatic or that
God's going to take away your fun or your freedom or anything else in life. He's not a cruel God,He's a loving God. "I didn't come to scareyou, I came to save you." We just need to realize how much God loves us. Do you think God gets His kicks out of making people miserable?What kind of God do you think we serve? You need to realize how much He loves you.
HOW MUCH DOES HE LOVE ME?
Ephesians 3:17, 18 "I pray that you will grasp how wise and long and high and deep is the love ofChrist." There are 4 dimensions here - "wide ... long ... high ...deep".
1. GOD'S LOVE IS WIDE ENOUGH TO INCLUDE EVERYBODY
Psalm 145:17 "The Lord is loving toward all He has made." All - everybody. John 3:16 "Godso loved the world." It's universal. The good news is thatGod loves me. The bad news is that He loves my enemies just as much. Jesus loved the unlovelyand that's what got him in trouble with the religious fanatics. Everybody you meet this week -God loves them.
God never made a person that He didn'tlove. He loves you. He loves you very, very much. You matter to God.
The secret of self-esteem: If you want to feel good about yourself, if you want confidence – realizehow much you matter to God. He loves you, He made you and God doesn't make junk! If I likeme and God likes me, if you don't like me it's you that's got a problem. If God likes me who careswhat anybody else thinks? Because God loves me I don't have to prove my self-worth. That is so comforting.
I don't have towear a certain kind of clothes to make me feel like I'm OK. I don't have to drive a certain kind ofcar to prop up my faltering ego. I don't have to have certain status symbols around my house. Idon't need them. God has looked at me and said, "I love you!" He made you and He loves you.God's love is wide enough to include everyone.
2. GOD'S LOVE IS LONG ENOUGH TO LAST FOREVER
Jeremiah 31:3 "I have loved you with an everlasting love." Psalm 89:2 "God's love will last forall time." That is so different from our kind of love. Human love wears out. That's whywe have a lot of divorces. But God's love never wears out. God's love ispatient, persistent, persevering. Isn't it good news to know that God never gives up on you? Nomatter what you do His love never gives up. It's wide enough to include everybody and it's longenough to last forever. God will never love you any more than He does right now. But He alsowill never love you any less than He does right now. He loves you on your good days. He lovesyou on your bad days. Because His love is not conditioned by your response. God is love. It isunearned, undeserved. Just accept it!
3. GOD'S LOVE IS HIGH ENOUGH TO BE EVERYWHERE
Romans 8:39 "Neither height not depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separateus from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." There is no place that you can gowhere God's love isn't. You'll never be separated from God's love. Nothing, no circumstance, nosituation can separate you because God's love is everywhere. If you want an antidote forloneliness, that's it. You will never be separated from God's love. The fact is we do lose lovedones. If you're married, one of you is going to die first. And you will grieve over that. But ifyou're a Christian, you'll never be lonely, because you can tune into God's love. I'm not talkingabout religion, I'm talking about a relationship to Jesus Christ. His love lasts forever and His love is everywhere.
4. GOD'S LOVE IS DEEP ENOUGH TO MEET MY NEEDS
Psalm 40:11 "My only hope is your love - for my problems are too big for me to solveand are piled over my head." I'm going under for the last time! I'm about to sink! The fact isGod's love is not shallow. It's profound. No matter what problem you have, His love is deeperthan that problem. Some of you are in deep despair, deep trouble, under deep stress, you've gotdeep problems, emotional problems, physical problems, financial problems. God's love is deeperstill.
"There is no pit so deep thatGod's love is not deeper."
Some of you in the last few weeks and months feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. Maybe financiallyor emotionally or you're having health problems and you're frustrated andyou think, "I am going under." Where is God when you hit bottom?
Deuteronomy 33:27 "The eternal God is your refuge and underneath you are His everlastingarms." When you hit bottom guess who's underneath the bottom? Godis. Drop into His arms of love. Let Him catch you and support you when you have nowhere elseto go.
When you look at these 4 phrases - "the height, the depth, the length and the width ofGod's love" - you have the 4 dimensions of the cross. Height, depth, width, length. You can'treally talk about the love of God without talking about the cross because the ultimatedemonstration of love is when someone gives their life for you. "Greater love hath no man thanthis than a man lay down his life for his friends." Romans 5:8 "Goddemonstrated (or showed) how much He really loves us by dying for us." Christ died for me andfor you. That is the ultimate demonstration of love.
Our children ask - "Daddy, how much do you love me?" When you ask God - "How much do you love me?" Jesus Christ stretchesout His arms on the cross and says, "I love you this much. I love you so much it hurts." Whenyou reject that kind of love and then expect God to let you into heaven that is ultimate arrogance. You matter to God - that's why He did it.
You matter to God. He loves you so much it hurts. If you say, "That's OK but I've got my own life to live. I don't want to be a fanatic. I don't want to lose my fun and my freedom." Be serious! Who do you think God is? You wouldn't be here ifit wasn't for God. You wouldn't even be alive. Who gave you your life? He loves you so much.
Some of youhave felt God's love in the past. You were close to God. You felt His care and His concern butyou've kind of drifted away. You think, "Can I ever get back to that kind of relationship?" Ormaybe you were active in another church and then you moved here and you’ve never really gotinvolved again.
What does God have to say to you? Regardless of your situation, regardless of your background
God brought you here this morning to say one thing to you. "With deep love I will take youback." That's what God wants to say to you. He says, "You matter to Me more than you'll everknow. Get in touch with Me. Build a relationship, get to know Me." Don't reject God's love. There is no one who will ever loveyou more than God does.
“God, Help me to realize how much You love me. Helpme to realize that You care for my problems and my needs. Help me to realize that You havea plan for my life. Forgive me for being afraid of You. Help me to realize that You wantwhat's best for my life. Today, God, I want to come back to You. Lord, thank You so much for Your love for us. Thank You for the cross. Thank You that thecross demonstrates the height, the depth, the width and the length of Your love. Thank Youthat there is no fear in love, that perfect love casts out all fear. We don't have to fear You.We can know You personally. We thank You. In Jesus' name. Amen.”