In Spite of Ourselves

When the Bible says God is love, many of us believe it’s true, but. Is that because his love seems too good to be true? Or is it because we are convinced we aren’t worthy or deserving of his love? Some like to say he loves us in spite of ourselves, in spite of the sin and darkness in our hearts. Is that the way God looks at us?

One of the myths surrounding God and his perspective on humanity is that because of the egregiousness of our sin, God can’t even look at us. His standards of holiness and righteousness won’t allow him to have anything to do with us, unless and until we repent and accept Jesus as our savior. This is difficult to reconcile with 1 John and other verses that talk about how much God loves us.

The truth is God loves us so much he sent his son to become one of us, sharing our humanity in all respects. He not only looked at us in our sin, he loved us while we were sinners and enemies, taking our sin upon himself, in all its ugliness. He loves us, not in spite of, but because of ourselves – because he made us out of his love, in his love and to be loved. This is the right perspective and the right response is to love him back, with gratitude and joy.

God’s Not Sitting on His Hands

I grew up thinking God isn’t very busy. After all, he finished creating everything a long time ago and the world seems to keep going on its own, so what’s left for him to do? What does he do all day? Maybe he sits at a desk waiting for prayers to be submitted and then decides which ones he’ll answer. Or maybe he manages the angels, telling them where to go and who to protect. Some think his anger meter just keeps going up and one day he’ll blow his top because of the sin and evil in the world.

I’m being silly of course. God doesn’t do any of those things. But he is busy, and he is not bored. God is active in the life of every believer. He’s active in the lives of those who don’t yet believe, even though they pay little to no attention to him.

As the meditation of St. Patrick indicates, “Christ behind me. Christ before me. Christ beside me. Christ between us. Christ beneath me. Christ above me. Christ within me.” He is always with us and as we learn to walk in his rhythms of grace, moving in tandem with the Holy Spirit, we will see all the ways he is involved in everything we do. In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

As my husband, my mom and I have prepared to move to another state, I’ve prayed for him to move in our lives in all the ways listed in St. Patrick’s prayer. And I’ve experienced God doing just that, as I have my whole life. I’m so thankful he isn’t sitting on his hands. God is busy creating, transforming, arranging, rearranging, blessing and working in our lives.