The Blog: Pastor Parsley's Personal Blog Pastor Rod Parsley

Love So Amazing, So Divine

3/4/2014 1:00:00 PM — There is a church-retreat song I learned more than a decade ago that I'm reminded of whenever God shows me how much He loves me. It sounds like a lullaby (and it works as one, too), with lyrics that often bring a tear to my eye:

You are loved/You are beautiful/You're a gift of God, His own creation/You're a gift to all mankind - His gift of love to us/You are loved/God danced the day you were born.

That song represents an essential view of God's love - the doting Daddy who just wants to hang with His kids. But there's another side of God's love that, owing much to our culture's degradation of Calvary's cross, the Church has neglected for too long - a furious, sacrificial love far beyond mankind's ability to comprehend. It's a perspective the Church needs to reclaim.

This past Sunday at World Harvest Church, God took over the service (if that doesn't happen where you worship, take it from me: it should). As often it happens around here, it started with the singing of a popular worship song:

He is jealous for me
Love's like a hurricane, and I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a (beautiful) kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets
when I think about the way

He loves us
Oh how He loves us

What I love about that song is that when the entire congregation sings along, it sounds to me what heaven must be like: the multitudes glorying in the furious love of God for His people.

In my book Culturally Incorrect I documented some of the false worldview that have invaded the culture and even some pockets of the Church. The most insidious of these to my mind is postmodernism – a worldview that holds that there is no such thing as absolute truth and that one person's truth is as good as any others. There are some absolute truths which I can understand why the non-Christian would reject. But I will never get the rejection of the idea of God's perfect love for His creation. We have all experienced the imperfect love of a parent, sibling, spouse or child, and long for the comfort of a loving relationship without the selfishness that accompanies human attempts to love one another.

There is a perfect love, of course, and it flows from heaven to you and to me. But man has taken even the love of God and perverted it into a narcissistic tenet of religion. "Of course God loves me," we reason. "Why wouldn't He? I'm worth it, after all; it's the least He can do." That attitude is one reason that I often say that God's idea of our "self-esteem problems" is that we have too much of it and ours is that we have too little of it. We cannot imagine that we are unworthy of love in our natural state, and that we need the extravagant step of Jesus's sacrifice to be able to stand before Him as a forgiven sinner.

I say it this way in The Cross: One Man...One Tree...One Friday:
The religious mind stumbles at the simple demand made the by the cross-i.e., stop trying in your own strength. Just come and receive. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). The message of the cross is that we were and are and always will be helpless to affect our own salvation. But that is a message man's religious pride cannot abide.

In the mid-1700s, the great open-air revivalist George Whitefield was preaching in a field outside of Boston. In attendance was a well-to-do lady of breeding and high standing in the community-although she was not a Christian. She had heard about Bostonians flocking in the thousands to listen to this English preaching phenomenon so she came out to hear for herself. Whitefield preached of Christ's sacrifice for sinners and how "all we like sheep have gone astray." He closed his message with the words he always used. An invitation: "Come poor, lost, undone sinner, come just as you are to Christ."

The woman was furious and stormed back to her waiting carriage in a rage: "It is perfectly intolerable that ladies like me should be spoken to just like some creature from the streets!"

The message of the cross is intolerable to those who prefer to think they can obtain real righteousness through their own efforts. It is offensive. It is a love so deep and free that it is scandalous.
The culture cannot begin to understand the scandal that is God's love for us. It cannot understand why we can sing, "If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking" as a celebration. And yet for the believer, it is a defining truth. We'd do well to remember that more often.