How does God feel about you?

Today Rico Tice came to Beeston Free Church to talk to us (and other East Mids church people!) about the “Passion For Life” mission initiative and posed a great question to us to illustrate the gospel:

“Write down one word which sums up how God feels about you this week”

What do you think people might have written? Rico didn’t get us to read them out, but instead told us what we should have written in response to it. If we really believe the gospel, we would know that the word that sums up how God feels about us is delighted – because he delights in his Son, Jesus Christ, and because we are united to him we relate to God on the basis of Jesus’ merits and righteousness, not on the basis of our good works.

This is great news – in the gospel we have the promise of Christ’s own righteousness given to us, so that God genuinely delights in us. If you know Christ as your saviour, God is not disappointed or angry with the idolatrous and  half-hearted life you’ve lived this week: he looks at you and sees Christ’s merits. This is bold stuff to say; and easily forgotten, but it is what it means to be saved by grace alone.

Really great stuff to be reminded of as we try and get the church behind the mission, and share this amazing, life-giving message with those around us.

*****************

As an update to this, I found myself at the NUCU Grill-a-Christian event last night after the Ropewalk quiz was “rained off” (not sure how that works, either!) and somebody (I think a non-Christian student) asked the question: “If God can forgive all our sins, why don’t you just do whatever you want and enjoy yourself, then ask for forgiveness?”. I have to say that I think this is exactly the question you ask when you have begun to understand the gospel – forgiveness really is free and salvation really is by grace alone, through faith alone. This kind of question should be met, at least initially, with commendation for having understood what the gospel’s offer of grace really means.

Of course, it is more than that – and I’m glad that the Christians who were being “grilled” pointed out both the moral perversity of such an approach, and that, in the words of one of them, “I can’t think of a single sin from which I would gain a lasting benefit.” Obedience and Christlikeness are essential to the Christian life, and so there is more to Christianity than what I’ve posted above. But there is more than, not less than that. I think if we preach the biblical gospel, the “but that means you can do anything you want and then be forgiven” objection is one we will hear a lot.

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2 Responses to “How does God feel about you?”

  1. James Carpenter Says:

    Hi Phil,

    Thanks for this. Love Rico’s point that whatever our efforts/half-heartedness God looks at us and delights in us through Christ.

    However I’m not convinced that a biblical view of the gospel should prompt us to be asking the question ‘if God can forgive all our sins, why don’t you just do whatever you want and enjoy yourself, then ask for forgiveness?’. I think a question like this misses both the cause of grace and the result of it. Surely grace exists because God loves us and so that we increase our love for God? If you take grace out of the context of God’s purpose for that grace, then yes I think that would prompt such a question. Grace is free to us (not cheap for God) and viewed as a gift should prompt a greater desire and love for the giver. I think if we preach a gospel which makes converts not disciples with the aim of ‘getting through the door’ rather than making worshippers of a gracious God then grace becomes cheap and God becomes small. Christ becomes merely useful (there’s a piper-ism for you).

    Clearly not advocating law keeping (we Christians tend to flit between cheap grace and law) but that what God wants from us is to love him (and we do that by grace alone!). If the gospel we preach is purely about forgiveness but not of the purpose of the forgiveness and the cost of the forgiveness then it becomes cheap. But I do think a proper understanding of the context of grace should prompt us to ask a very different question ‘how can I love God more each day? how can I by his grace trust and obey?’ while always remembering we can’t prove ourselves to God and we’re always clean.

    These are initial thoughts but an issue that has been on the mind for some time. Would love some correction/other thoughts/etc.

    Yours,

    James

    • agyapw Says:

      Thanks James. I agree with you that Christians shouldn’t have the attitude of “I can do whatever I want” or ever think grace is cheap. But I do think they need to remember that grace is free… it’s a thin line to walk practically I know.
      My comment that this was exactly the question someone asks when they hear the gospel explained is more about people who are becoming, or who are not yet, Christians. If they dig a little deeper they’ll probably continue the thought with “so why don’t Christians do that?”. At this point evangelical Christians give different answers depending on how exactly they view the Law of Moses in relation to the Christian… a huge topic in itself. But I don’t disagree really with what you’ve said; in fact it really unpacks what I meant by there is more to it than that (than justification by faith alone) but not less than.

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