You’ve heard it said many times. You’ve maybe said it yourself. “God loves you just the way you are.” On Easter Sunday, I made the statement, “God doesn’t love you just the way you are...” Some people were troubled by that. Others were trying to figure out where I was going. Actually I heard Richard Blackaby make the same statement recently and I had to think about it too.
When we say “God loves you just the way you are,” I think we are making a statement that is incorrect. You see, we have for so long held on to grace that we give people a wrong impression of what it really is. Too often our version of grace is that God is gonna love us no matter what we do. I’ve thought that from time to time. When we put our faith in Jesus, everything is made new and we are forgiven, right? Well, yes. And it is amazing, but… That is not what is so amazing about grace. When we buy into that version of grace, I think we sell God short. We think that we can just go live however we want, because we are forgiven. “Everything is under the blood” we hear people say. We are under grace, not law. Right? The problem is we have churches FULL of people who think that they can put their faith in Jesus, get eternal “fire insurance” then continue to wallow in and live enslaved to the sins that Jesus gave His life to set us free from. The church is not living in victory because we have bought cheap grace. We somehow think we deserve some kind of grace form God…we don’t! He doesn’t love us just the way we are.
So the statement is more correctly said that “God doesn’t love you just the way you are…He loves you in spite of the way you are!” That is grace. We are ALL sinners by nature and by choice, living in rebellion to a Holy God who created us in His image to have a love relationship with Him. Yet we have chosen to turn our back on Him. We don’t deserve anything, but as Romans 5:8 says…
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Christ made restoration of that relationship possible, by what He did on the cross and when He rose from the dead! He paid for something we could never have deserved, because of sin.
We CAN come to Him JUST THE WAY WE ARE, but His unconditional love for us is in spite of us and our sin and our rebellion. “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”( Psalm 86:15) We like that verse. But we don’t like this one: The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3) Our God is mighty and holy and can have nothing to do with sin. That is why Jesus had to come to pay a debt He didn’t owe…a debt we owed but couldn’t pay. But God does not love us just the way we are, rather He loves us in spite of the way we are. Here is how Peter puts it…
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
That’s the heart of God. That’s grace…amazing grace! He desires that everyone would come to Him.
Oh…one more thing. “God doesn’t love you just the way you are…He loves you in spite of the way you are…and He loves you too much to leave you that way.” He is in the transformation business. We are the bride of Christ and we should be allowing the Holy Spirit to get us ready for that glorious day when the Bridegroom will come to take us home. We should know that when God, through the Holy Spirit, is chipping away at the things in us that are not like His Son, it is because He loves us too much to leave us enslaved to and wallowing in the sin that He died for.
So, how is God transforming you by His grace? Are you letting Him or are you rebelling against Him?