On Sunday morning at First Pres we studied what I find to be one of the most powerful and compelling teachings of Jesus. The thought crossed my mind that, rather than preaching a sermon, perhaps I should have just read the passage from Luke 15 and sat down. The story of the Prodigal Son speaks to the heart of God’s heart for us. If you missed worship on Sunday morning, you can listen to the message here.
The Lord declares through the prophet Isaiah “Mu thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV).
Problem is, when it comes to what we suppose God thinks about us, we don’t often believe that. Most often we feel as though God’s thoughts about us are pretty much in line with our thoughts about ourselves. If I am behaving well, I tend to think that God views me more favorably. If I am royally sinning it up, we often feel as though God is not as delighted with me. My suspicion is that if I were to ask you what God thinks about when God thinks about you, you would immediately begin to take stock of where you are spiritually and morally.
And there are a couple of deeply ingrained reasons for that.
The first reason is that we learned a long time ago as children that our behavior matters when it comes to what other people think about us. We didn’t receive discipline as kids when our behavior was good; we got in trouble when we our behavior was bad. And throughout our lives, it has remained true that our behavior sets us up to make and keep relationships, our behavior matters to how we relate to our spouse, or our kids, and our neighbors. This tends to be true of all most all of our relationships; our behavior for good or for ill, impacts our standing in the other person’s eyes.
And secondly, we have learned from culture and experience that our performance matters. You have had to perform at school, and then you had to perform at work, many of you feel like you have had to perform in your relationships, whether that was to perform in order to receive love from mom or dad, or you feel like you are performing in your marriage in order to earn love, or you had to perform in order to keep up with your older brother or older sister. For some of you, you have never known a loving relationship that is not performance based.
But God doesn’t operate that way.
He loves us. In our deepest, darkest, and most depraved moments, God still loves us completely. Nothing we have done or will do could possibly make God love us any less.
God’s thoughts about you are not your thoughts about you. They are higher, better, more loving, and more gracious than any thought you have ever had about yourself.
So, be at peace friends, you are loved by God.
Grateful to be receiving this wildly underserved love alongside you,