Have you noticed that people can form opinions about other people that can be pretty twisted? I was doing some research on well-known Christian leaders and as I sorted through the Internet entries, I found radically different opinions about each person on different websites. These leaders were either viewed as saints or heretics, apostles or apostate, heroes or scoundrels. Everyone seemed to have an opinion and each opinion was so drastically different.
I am just finishing a book by Ralph Harris entitled God’s Astounding Opinion of You. This book as Steve McVey writes in its forward “isn’t one of those books that’s supposed to get you hyped up over believing in yourself. To the contrary, this book will cause you to become genuinely enthused about the One who created you.” Steve goes on and says, “This book will cause you to sense love for Him rising up in you in response to the lavishing love He has for you.”
Truly, this is what happens as you read this book. My love for God the Father has risen simply because I am beginning to comprehend to a great degree His love for me. Isn’t that the way it works?
When I first met my wife, Roi Lene, we were thirteen year old Junior Highers preparing to show cattle at our 4-H fair in Gladbrook in the summer of 1965. As a young teenage boy, I wasn’t able emotionally to embrace full-grown love but when I met her, I (liked) loved her. And then, come to find out from a friend who had talked to her, she (liked) loved me. That sealed the deal. We were boy-friend and girl-friend. From then on, it wasn’t a matter of me trying to love her more. It was simply a matter of me being aware of how much she loved me. At the age of 20, she became my wife and forty-two years later, I love her more than I ever have loved her. But my love has grown, not by trying to love well but simply being responsive to her love for me.
I’m not saying it doesn’t require effort to enjoy a lasting and loving marriage. I’m just saying that the more she knows I love her, the more she loves me and her love for me encourages my love for her.
People have asked me over the years as I have served as their pastor, “Tell me how to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.” My answer is, “Come to know how much God loves you.” The prayer in Ephesians 3 that Paul prays says, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
The love of Jesus surpasses mere knowledge. When people say, “I already understand God’s love,” Paul would say, “If you think you know, you don’t know.” And so becoming sensitive to the dimensions of His love becomes a life-changer.
In Ralph Harris’ book he asks this question, “Do you ever back into prayer? You know, enter His throne room by apologizing for nearly everything under the sun because you know you’re guilty of plenty, and the only way out is by lengthy repentance? (You’d confess global warming if it would help.)…” As I expressed regret about who knows what, I said something like, “You know how I am, Lord.” And before I could go on with my theme, into my mind crashed the following:
“I do, but you do not. I find not one fault with you and love you endlessly. I have made you just right – perfect – and I love you. It is well between you and Me.”
Do you know that this is God’s opinion of you? You are not a sorry sinner or a pathetic loser. You are perfectly, endlessly loved by God.