This morning I am thinking about Romans 5:8 in reference to my parenting. This familiar verse says, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What strikes me about this verse is that God loved us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still in our rebellion against him. God loved us first. In fact, God had to love us first or else we would never have escaped our rebellion. Romans 3:11 states “…no one seeks for God”, so it was necessary that He seek us if were ever going to experience salvation and serve Him at all. God had to initiate our relationship with him.
So, what does this have to do with parenting? As redeemed people who have been made in the image of God, our calling is to show the world what God is like… this includes our children. Therefore, I want my children to see me seeking them out as God has sought me out. I do not want to be a father who only relates to my children when they come to me first, asking me to play with them or answer their questions. On the contrary, I want them to expect that Dad is going to come after them in love – initiating talks, play-time, and the giving of help.
Last Friday, Keri and I went to see our favorite songwriter, Andrew Peterson, in concert. The evening was a mixed bag of emotions as Peterson has a talent for telling great stories with his songs, but one such song (and his explanation of it) has risen above the rest to stick with me over the last few days. The song is called Rest Easy, and Peterson calls it his “legalism recovery song”. He told the audience that this song sprung out of him dealing with a long-entrenched feeling that God was consistently disappointed with him. But his recognition of the gospel wins out in this song, because he believes the truth that God knows him and the truth that God loves him are not mutually exclusive.
It’s not hard for us think to that only one of those realities can be true: either God loves us but does not know us (because then he would be ignorant of all of our sin and rebellion) or God knows us but does not love us (because surely he could not love me when he knows the depth of my sin and rebellion). But the gospel makes both of these things true at the same time. How? Well, it wasn’t that God just learned to accept what was directly offensive to him because he knew we would never change. That would be impossible because of his holiness and justice. Instead, he made his Son the object of his justice for our sake – “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). God knew about our sin, but punished Christ for it instead of us so that he could love us as he loves Christ.
You know much of the darkness that lurks in your heart, and if certain people in your life ever saw you from the inside, it is likely that they would withdraw from you at best or attack you at worst. But this is not the case with God. Actually, God knows the darkness of your heart more than you do, but it has not led him to draw back in fear or, in anger, consume you with fire from heaven. If you have trusted in Christ for rescue, then Jesus experienced the fullness of God’s anger for your sin, so that you will forever experience the fullness of his love in Christ.