God’s love for us versus God’s acceptance of us (part 1)

Dog bite wound

 

Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (NKJV)

The other day, as I was watching a rerun of a reality TV show featuring a Veterinarian on his daily rounds, a particular case stood out to me. It was the case of an elderly dog that had bitten the owners’ granddaughter on the face. The owner of the dog loved the dog dearly but he loved his granddaughter more. He realized that if the dog bit the child once that the dog may possibly do that again which brought him to the conclusion that the dog should be put to sleep. The Veterinarian was called to do just that. As the owner of the dog spoke, tears welled up in his eyes. He had owned the dog all of its life and the dog had never been aggressive before but he was not going to take a chance that it could happen again. The safety of the owner’s family won out over the owner’s love for his pet. The unacceptability of the dog’s behavior trumped the owner’s love for the animal.

As I look at God and His relationship with humans today, I wonder if that same principle still holds true? So, I went back into the Bible with this question;

Is there any account in the Bible of a human’s behavior being so unacceptable and so untamable that it overran God’s love for them?
I started my search in the book of Genesis and didn’t have to read very far. Chapter 3 tells us of a couple who were so very special and at this point the most loved by God of all His creation. Adam and Eve ate fruit of a forbidden fruit tree. This behavior was unacceptable to God, despite His love for them. God had walked and talked with them in this amazing, special Garden that He specifically planted to house them. But, they had become unsafe. God was concerned that now that they were unsafe and unacceptable that they would eat of another tree in the Garden of Eden, namely the Tree of Life, causing them to live in this sad state they would live forever. So, God kicked them out of the Garden of Eden despite the fact that God’s love of them never wavered. Adam and Eve’s unacceptable behavior trumped God’s love for His new creation.
But, it was not God who put them to death. The act of rebellion against God’s authority did. They knew that eating of that fruit would bring them death and now here they were, in the active, slow process of being consumed by death.
What was God’s response? To continue loving them; to continue going with them through life; to continue speaking to them; to continue being faithful to them.
God did not ditch Adam and Eve because something better came along. Adam and Eve ditched God because their desires assured them that something better had come along.
Well, OK, that is one example. In my journey through Genesis for love and unacceptability I went no further than Genesis 4, I found another fellow named Cain.
The same scenario repeated itself. There were different circumstances but it all played out the same.
Cain brought an offering of fruits and vegetables. His brother Abel brought a sacrifice of a lamb. (It is my assumption that they already knew what was and was not considered an acceptable sacrifice since they are sacrificing and offering in the first place.) Cain’s offering was not acceptable as was Abel’s. Cain was jealous and killed Abel. So, what does God say to Cain? Genesis 4:7 says, “If you do well will you not be accepted?” (NKJV)
God, clearly hadn’t stopped loving Cain even though Cain committed murder. But, here again, another in the family decided to leave God rather than humble himself and turn towards God. So far, the history of humans’ love for God only went so far. Up to this point they all went off to do their own thing which, apparently, seemed better than God’s way.
But let’s go on to Genesis 4:16. I think this is the saddest verse in the Bible. “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord…” (NKJV). God was faithful and Cain left. God was loving and Cain left. Cain chose to kill his brother and made matters worse when he left God. Cain murdered his brother and then murdered the relationship he had with God.
So, that is sad for them but what does that have to do with us today?
As with Cain, God’s continuous love for humans does not necessarily equal God’s acceptance of our thoughts, desires, plans or behaviors. Yet, God remains faithful and will not take His love away from any of us while we are still in this Earthly realm, also known as the land of the living. Yet, we still fall into the same trap that Adam and Eve did that when we feel God’s love we automatically equate that with His acceptance.
How about a fictitious example?
A woman has three young daughters. She loves her daughters very much. But, she also has an older brother that she loves very much. He practically raised her and her devotion to him is immense. Her older brother, however, has landed himself in prison for having assaulted a young girl. He is about to be released from prison and needs a place to live. He asks her if he can live with her and her three young daughters.
Does the woman’s love of her brother trump the safety of her daughters?
This last example sounds a lot like the man with the dog at the beginning of this blog entry, doesn’t it?
It still is all about love versus safety, isn’t it?
What about God’s love for the older brother? Should it surprise us that the older brother is able to give and receive love? And despite the fact that God finds his act with that young girl unacceptable, does that mean God stops loving the older brother? No.
But, just as the woman with the three daughters will (hopefully) not accept this man into her home so will God definitely not accept this man into His heaven when he dies. Except if he can find a way of atoning for what God has found to be unacceptable. Now, this man may think of many ways of trying to atone for what he has cruelly and viciously done. But, remember, he is not just looking to make amends here on earth. This man is looking to make amends with God and therefore what he uses as atonement has to be a way that is agreeable to and accepted by God. Otherwise, if he is allowed into heaven in the state he is in, heaven will become as infected with the germs of sin that earth is already encrusts earth.
The older brother in the above story may defend his actions as being right simply because he so desperately has the desire to do them. He may also, in his self-delusion, claim that he had great love for the young girl. He may claim that he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she had a great love for him and she actually desired him sexually. He may even claim to feel God’s love for him. But remember, Matthew 5:45? God sends sunshine and rain of the just and unjust alike. Meaning, God’s love shines down on all humans. So, no one should be surprised that they feel God’s love. That’s what God wants; saints and sinners alike to feel His love!
Likewise, because one human can feel deep, affectionate love for another does not give the automatic acceptance by God for whatever is done because of a feeling of being justified by a bond of love.
Our society today is trying to broaden the scope of what is morally acceptable but God isn’t part of our society. We, in Christ Jesus, are a part of God’s society. We, in Christ Jesus work to live by God’s laws. Why? Because we know that when we get to heaven that is the way it will be for all eternity. Think about the Lord’s prayer. Remember the one statement in it which says, “Thy will be done”? If you don’t want God’s will to be done in your life now, will you want to go to heaven and live by God’s will for all eternity?
If you don’t want to proclaim Jesus as your Lord and Savior and develop a relationship with Jesus here, in this life, will you want to be a subject in His eternal kingdom?
For Cain in Genesis 4, the answer was that he loved his life more than he loved God. Cain loved his free-will to pick and choose what was acceptable and what wasn’t and he didn’t care anymore what God accepted or rejected. Jesus had an answer for that state of mind. In John 12:25, Jesus states that if any man loves his own life he will lose it.
So, the question comes down to this for all humans today. Will our desires, thoughts and acts in this life overrun our desires, thoughts and acts in reaching for the next life? This is the crux of the Bible and a question that can only be answered by each individual alone. What do we desire more? Perhaps, it is that which we are the most faithful to?
With that, I will say farewell for today. I sincerely hope that you too will feel God’s love shining down on you and that you find it acceptable and pleasing. I also hope that you see God’s love as a welcoming invitation to a new relationship with Him. For, as always God’s amazing love is designed to leave you with joyous awe and…
 ……blinking in sunlight!…..

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