Crazy, Extravagant Love

I hadn’t intended to post to my blog today; I was going to write in one of my personal journals. But I watched the movie Old Fashioned once again this morning (third or fourth time, I can’t remember), the movie I discussed in my last blog post here. Like any good movie, you pick up things you didn’t catch the last time. It’s interesting to watch the transformation in each of the main characters, and the extravagant expression of love at the end. It appeals to my gooey hopeless romantic in a very positive emotional way.

Rita and I were discussing it over lunch when God decided to intervene (I love it when He does that). I found myself suddenly thinking about the way God loves us as represented by examples in the book of Hosea and the parable of the Prodigal Son. Both are stories about us in their own separate ways. Both show how extravagant God is when it comes to loving us.

Hosea is one of God’s chosen prophets to Israel and Judea. God tells him to marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her. Depending on the Bible version you choose, she is sometimes called a prostitute. Her name is Gomer and God has his reasons for Hosea to take her as his wife. Their relationship and family are to be a message to Israel, who have turned their backs on God. They have three children, a son, a daughter, and another son. She eventually leaves Hosea for another man. Then the amazing part: God tells Hosea to go buy her back, and to pay the price of 15 shekels of silver and 9 bushels of barley, which was probably all the money and goods Hosea owned. All for an unfaithful wife.

The parable of the Prodigal Son is probably more familiar. The younger son of a rich man demands his share of the inheritance, which he cashes in and leaves. Life is good for a while, with lots of wine, women, and partying. Pretty soon the money runs out, a famine hits the land, and the young man is reduced to seeking work feeding pigs (an absolutely horrible fate for a Jewish man; pigs were considered unclean and only non-Jewish people raised them). He’s starving and thinking about stealing the pig’s food when he finally ‘comes to himself’ and realizes even a servant in his father’s house has a better life than he has. He makes his way home to ask his father’s forgiveness and beg for a servant’s position. Instead, the father runs to him, embraces him, puts a robe and ring on him to show everyone he is a son and heir, and then throws a party for him.

The point of Hosea’s life as object lesson and the parable are the same. God loves every one of us with an extravagant love we can only begin to comprehend. We are the promiscuous wife and the wayward son. In spite of God showering us with love and blessings we chase after other “gods” like adulterous spouses and rebellious children. Our god is often our own insatiable lust wrapped up in a variety of ways. We become our own gods; we think we’re large and in charge, able to control anything that crosses our path, and with the right to do so because we ‘deserve’ it.

Our rebellion and resistance against God is so pernicious we’ll even cling to it when our lives have crashed down around our ears. We “come to our senses” and realize the terrible things we’ve done to others and to ourselves. And yet, we seek every possible solution to our problems except the right one. Our problem is sin, a wholesale rebellion against the authority of God, and the only solution is to surrender to Him and seek forgiveness of that sin through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

God’s love is so incredible, so amazing, so overwhelming He did what it took to forgive our sins. He provided the solution we were powerless to give ourselves. His righteousness and justice require a price must be paid, a punishment must be carried out. We have no way to pay it. We’re all subject to punishment; because of the magnitude of sin it means being removed from the presence of God eternally. We try to downplay or even ignore sin; we deny its existence, divide it into “big” and “little” sins, and make light of it. God disagrees; it cost him the death of his Son in a most barbaric, horrible way. It was the only way that justice could be satisfied. That’s how seriously he considers sin.

We’re like people drowning in a rough ocean. We have no hope of survival, we can’t swim our way out of this one. Yet, when God throws the lifesaver our way we refuse to grab it. Some deny they’re drowning; they’re doing just fine, thank you. Some think they’re unworthy of being saved; others deserve it but not them. Even if they accept the lifesaver they feel guilty for being saved because if the one in the lifeboat knew just what awful things they’d done the lifesaver would have been thrown to someone else.

Once you recognize your hopeless condition, please don’t say, “Oh, God could never forgive me of that. I don’t deserve to be loved or to have any good things in my life.” God doesn’t see it that way. In fact, it’s an insult that borders on blasphemy. What you’re telling him is you don’t believe there’s enough power in the blood of Jesus to cover and forgive what YOU’VE done; that God doesn’t have enough power to forgive you. Besides, God knows everything about you and still loves you enough to offer his forgiveness through Christ. You ARE loved and receive good things every day of your life, even though you fail to recognize them as blessings.

God is big enough, Christ’s blood is powerful enough, and their love is extravagant and overwhelming. God will provide more than you thought you’d ever need or deserve. Because that’s what crazy, extravagant love does. That’s what God wants to give you. Please say yes to Him.