Blogs by Kathi Macias
For God so loved...that He gave...
2/14/2008 6:31:09 AM
For God so loved…that He gave… (John 3:16).
February 14 has come to be known as “a day for lovers,” and rightfully so. More than any other day of the year, we send cards, flowers, candy, and other expressions of affection to the ones we claim to love. Somehow we recognize that loving involves giving.
And no one does that better than the One who loved us so much that He gave us everything—not just a symbol or a reminder of His love, but EVERYTHING: His best, His all, His only Son. But though love begins with giving, it isn’t complete without receiving.
I spent the first twenty-six years of my life believing God existed, that Jesus was His Son, that He was born to a Jewish virgin named Mary, that He died on a cruel cross for “the sins of the world,” and that He rose again. Was that enough to complete the cycle of the gift of love and assure my entrance into heaven when I died? No. Absolutely not! Had I died during that first twenty-six years of my life, I have not one doubt that I would be in hell today. For believing the truth about God’s love isn’t the same as receiving it.
I wasn’t raised in a Christian family, though I imagine if anyone had asked about our religious beliefs, we would have said we were Christians. After all, we were born in America; my parents had been baptized as infants (my father as a Lutheran, my mother as a Catholic). I too had been baptized—in the Lutheran church as a baby, and in the Catholic Church when I was sixteen and made the conscious decision to become a practicing Catholic. But none of that assured my entrance into heaven, for the gift of God’s love to me still lay unwrapped, waiting….
It wasn’t until July 5, 1974, as I was kneeling in prayer beside the bed, finally broken over the sin and selfishness of my life, that God showed me something quite amazing: a picture of “love in action.” In my mind I “saw” myself standing in a crowd, somewhere on a dusty road. Some of the people around me were weeping, some jeering, some screaming in anger…or anguish. But they were all looking in the same direction—down the road—at something, or Someone, approaching.
I too looked, and what I saw took my breath away. It was Jesus, bruised and bloody, bent and beaten, carrying His cross and stumbling toward me. The closer He got, the more I cried, as I saw the sweat and tears and blood dripping down His face.
And then He drew up even with me and stopped. He raised His head and looked past everyone else in the crowd, straight at me. In His eyes I saw love—unimaginable, unconditional, unending love—and then He spoke five words that changed my life forever: “I did it for you.”
For me! He hadn’t died simply for “the sins of the world,” as I’d always believed, but for me—for my sins! He had been beaten and bloodied, had carried the cross and walked the Via de la Rosa, had hung between earth and sky—for me! Oh, the life-changing love that was given and received as Jesus spoke those five words: “I did it for you.”
“For God so loved…that He gave…” God’s gift of love is so great that it forgives and transforms all who receive it. It gives assurance of entrance into heaven and a forever existence in the very presence of the One who loved and gave. And it is offered freely and fully…for you and for me.
If you’ve never received that gift of love—if the greatest gift ever given still lies, waiting and unopened, with your name on it—don’t let another day go by without receiving the true gift of love, a gift that will last long after the chocolates are eaten and the flowers wilted. It is a forever gift, and in it you will discover the greatest love—the only love—we can ever know or experience.
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