Christians like to talk about God’s love – it’s one of our favorite topics. It makes us feel good. What we don’t like to admit, however, is that we can’t always reconcile God’s love with our life experience. You would think that if God loves us as much as we say He does life would be much easier and we would be able to make sense of it all. But that’s not the way it is.
Sometimes God’s love is a strange love – at least by our definition. There are times when God’s actions fall outside the parameters that we have established for love. They don’t fit. They don’t make sense in the context of love.
A good example is the story of Lazarus in John 11. When Jesus heard that his friend was sick and that his sisters had sent an urgent message for Him to come and heal their brother, He delayed for several days – until it was certain that Lazarus was dead. That’s a strange way to express love. You and I would have set off immediately for the town of Bethany in order to save our friend’s life. But not Jesus. He acted in a strange way. He simply didn’t go. How is that love by any definition?
But it wasn’t a lack of love for Lazarus that caused Jesus to act the way He did – He certainly loved him (John 11:5). Instead it was precisely because of His love that He acted that way. His love for Lazarus and his sisters caused Jesus to put them through the agony of sickness, death and mourning so that they might experience something they could not have experienced in any other way. Greater than even their pain was the opportunity to be part of what God was doing on earth as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and expressed the amazing glory of God for the world to see (John 11:4, 40). Think about what Lazarus, Mary and Martha would have missed if Jesus had acted by our definition of love!
Here’s the point. God sometimes acts in strange ways, at least from our perspective, to show His love for us because He has something greater in mind than we can see. His love motivates Him to act outside the boundaries of our understanding for our good and always for His glory (which is the greatest good for all of us). Yes, God sometimes expresses His love for us in strange ways, but it is always in the best way – even if we don’t understand it.
You see God loves you too much to leave you as you are – He wants more for you (2 Corinthians 3:18). He loves you too much to allow you to live in sin – He wants better for you (Hebrews 12:6). He loves you too much to let you go your own way – He wants to show you a better way (Romans 8:29, 12:1-2). And so He acts in strange love to accomplish His perfect pleasure in your life (Philippians 2:13).
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