Fake news has been around since folks started telling people what’s going on in the next town. They either got it mixed up (remember playing the telephone game where the message became garbled as it went around?) or they did it on purpose for their own gain. Today, with the proliferation of blogs and websites, and everyone’s need to give an opinion, you have to take much of what you read on the Internet with a grain of salt.
The same is true about the misinformation surrounding Jesus. Ever since he started his ministry, and continuing to this day, the stories about who he is have been garbled, ranging to slightly in error to egregiously wrong. The good news of his birth and the reason he became a human has been distorted to the point most people have no clue about him.
The fake news is that God took his anger out on Jesus, because, after all, someone had to pay. Many believe God is still angry and just a hair’s breadth away from squashing us like bugs. But the truth looks much different. God’s plan of redemption had nothing to do with his anger. It was and is all about his love. Jesus not only brought good news, he is the good news: through his life, death and resurrection, he revealed the Father to us and just how much he loves us. Because he is Emmanuel, God with us in every sense, the story of his redeeming love is the best news humanity will ever hear.
Do we deserve God’s love? A Google search will quickly reveal the consensus is no, we don’t. But is this even a valid question?
When God created humans, he did so because he wanted to share his love and relationship with us. Whether we deserved to be created and loved wasn’t part of the equation. And I’m pretty sure he wasn’t surprised when sin happened. He knew it was the highly probable, if not inevitable, result of free will. Before it happened, he already had a plan for salvation and redemption.
Do we deserve God’s love? Wrong question. How much does God love the world? He gave his only son for us. How wide and long and high and deep is God’s love for us? His unfailing love is as vast as the heavens and nothing can ever separate us from his love in Christ (Psalm 36:5 and Romans 8:35).
Because God is love (1 John 4:8), we don’t have to worry about deserving, earning or losing his love. He loves us unconditionally and forever, simply because of who he is.
“Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness” (Ephesians 6:23, NLT).
Prayer is how Christians participate in the relationship of Father, Son and Spirit. It is as easy as simply talking to him, but sometimes, especially when praying for people in difficult situations, we find ourselves at a loss for words. In this short prayer, tacked on to the end of Ephesians, Paul gives us not only a sample prayer but insight into the heart of God.
God is love (1 John 4) and he is faithful. Because we know this about him and we know he hears us when we pray, asking him for love with faith is a prayer he will always answer. We all need both, so we can pray this for others and ourselves in any and every situation with complete confidence. God doesn’t withhold himself from us but is eager to share and help us through life with these and every fruit of the Spirit—and all we have to do is ask. I’m sure Paul wouldn’t mind if we echo and even copy his prayers. They are timeless, insightful and reflective of God’s heart for us.