March 15, 2010

All the Wrong Places

Sing it with me now:

Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,
Lookin’ for love in too many faces –
Searchin’ her eyes …

Okay, so I don’t sound too much like Johnny Lee. Probably neither do you! But it’s still quite an interesting song, is it not? It’s the life story of so many people, which is probably why it resonated so well back in 1980 … and why I still remember it today (that and the catchy tune!).

And, when it comes to men and women looking for God’s love, the song’s title strikes an even more profound note. For isn’t it true that, much of the time, we find ourselves looking for God’s love to be demonstrated in our circumstances – in an answered prayer about our health; in His provision of a pay raise, or a fixed automobile, or a happy marriage, or a good test grade, or a _______________ (you fill in the blank)? And aren’t we often disappointed when we use these measuring sticks?

It is true that God does show His love to us, sometimes, by giving us the pay raise, or the A+, or the happy family. And we should praise Him for it! But we should remember that, for our good, God does not always see fit to give us what we think feels loving. From time to time (and for wise reasons) He allows cancer, and flat tires, and broken computers, and unemployment. And, if we define God’s love in terms of a good, happy, normal American life … then we will find ourselves, sometimes, sorely disappointed.

To put it more simply, if we define God’s love in terms of earthly blessings and happiness, then we are, quite simply, “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.” For God does not teach us to look for His love, primarily, in terms of earthly blessing. But what He does say is that He “demonstrates His own love for us” (Romans 5.8) “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

A good friend once pointed out, wisely, that Romans 5.8 says that, at the cross, God “demonstrates His love” (present tense) … not that God “demonstrated His love” (past tense). In other words, it is not that God one time, two thousand years ago, showed us that He loved us … but that now, as we go forward into the days of our lives, we have to look for more and more demonstrations (financial security, health, good kids, and so on). No! Romans 5.8 is in the present tense! God continues to demonstrate His love for us in the death of His Son on behalf of us poor sinners!

In other words, if I want to know whether or not God loves me … I do not begin or end by looking at my medical history; or at my bank account; or at my car, or house, or wife, or kids. Yes, I will surely see some evidences of God’s love in those places. But if I want to be certain that God loves me (even when all the other evidence seems to fail me), I look first at my rap sheet, and then at the cross of Jesus … and realize that, if God gave up His only Son to save a wretch like me, then His love was (and will be) there all the time – tumor or no tumor, job or no job, 401K or no 401K.

Yes, in His love, God provides more earthly blessings than we can count. But, if we build our understanding of or trust in His love on the basis how we feel about the level of our earthly blessings ... then we are, with Johnny Lee, “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.”

So never forget: “God demonstrates” (present tense!) “His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”!


Anonymous said...

Kurt, these words draw my memory to the friend who pointed this truth out to me just a couple of short years ago; than you for bringing it again to my mind--so true--our idea of love is so skewed because of our self-centered religion that even we believers often find ourselves 'looking to the wrong places' for demonstrations of God's love. The is love vast as the ocean, lovingkindness like a flood, When the Prince of Life, our Ransom shed for us His Precious blood!
Hope your family are all well. Katie is a faithful follower of your blog and I read along the way..Kathy Strevel

Kurt Strassner said...

Glad to hear from you, Ms. Kathy. Tell the whole gang hello from Cincinnati!