God’s Relational Nature

A most incredible truth in the universe is that God “hearts” (truly feels love towards) each one of us.

What?

We are talking about an all-powerful, unstoppable BEING, and saying that he knows and cares about each of the estimated 7.8 billion mortals inhabiting this globe?

Selah! [“Selah” in the  Bible means “take a break and ponder it”].

Honestly, this is more than our 1.5 kg (3.3 lb.) brains can comprehend. Trips all circuit breakers.

Time to realize that HeDeity – has infinite capacity. Mental capacity, focus, attention span, all are unlimited and inexhaustible with Him. The Bible describes God as authentically relational and responsive toward human beings. He can engage with each man, woman, and child fully at the same time. Recognize God’s relational nature!

Has the Lord forgotten us? “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you. See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind …” Isa. 49:14-16.[1]

From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.” Isa. 43:13.

BUTTTTTT

How, how, how could there be so much injustice and suffering in this world? If God “hearts” us, wouldn’t He fix everything that is wrong? These are burning, legitimate questions. Let’s see if HE answers them for us.

Some of the most significant episodes in human history are provided to us in the early chapters of the Bible, Genesis chapters 1 – 3. They form the bedrock for understanding life as we find it on planet earth.

  • God did not delegate the work of creating us. He Himself created us humans. He did so not only by handcrafting our amazing physical bodies, but He also went “mouth to mouth” to breath his very own eternal life into us![2] We humans are the only ones of whom He says, we are “created in God’s image.”[3]
  • He placed us in a wonderful, fault-free environment.[4]
  • He wanted to develop us humans within a relationship of trust and understanding of Him.
    The first step toward this was a simple way for humans to show respect and obedience. There was one thing Creator withheld for Himself. One fruit tree that his image bearers were to respect and reserve for Him alone.[5] We had all the reason in the world to honor Deity by obeying, but instead, we began millenniums of rebellion. Humankind lost all purity, and descended from bad to worse, and is still going downhill.[6]
  • And every day, all of us suffer the consequences, sometimes horrible consequences, of our insurrection. Killing, looting, theft, gender-based violence, racial-based oppression, religious persecution, etc. etc. etc. have their genesis in this first rejection of God’s authority and goodness. Each of us adds to the guilt of humanity.

What has Deity done about this?

Deity has gone far beyond expectation. Rather than obliterate us obstinate rebels, He left His glorious throne and came down to this infected planet. He entered this world as A HUMAN BABY!  Recalibrate this in your thinking.

Deity planted Divine sperm in a young girl who carried Him to full term. Mary gave birth to this Divine-human like any other human baby. Let this bounce around in your 1.5kg (3.3lbs) of grey-cells!  

Angelic beings lit the sky to announce His birth.[7] Deity shifted even some stars to proclaim the news.[8] 

This divine/human grew like other boys and earned the respect of all.[9]

As an adult he walked the country sides and towns, interacting with people of all classes, cultures, and reputations.[10] He showed interest and solidarity with everyone. Mothers were attracted to bring their young children to be held by him.[11] Outcast women found him to be a safe haven.[12] Blind, paralyzed, lepers, infirmed, were healed by him.[13]

Religious heads were jealous and frightened by his popularity. Jesus went to Jerusalem at the busiest time of the year, and purposely inflamed their fear and hatred of him.[14] He often told his close companions that would be killed by these authorities, be buried for a brief time, then resurrect to life again.[15]

This is how much Deity “hearts” you, me, everyone! He died a horrible physical death before the eyes of family, friends, and enemies.[16] But he suffered much worse. Deity on earth called out to Deity above and said, “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?”[17] Deity broke![18] The God/man was banished, abandoned, rejected for three hours of earthly time (but something incalculable in Divine “time”).[19]                                        

You, me, all our family members, friends, associates, neighbors, and even our enemies and strangers on the street and in the marketplaces, are both: 1, The direct cause of Deity suffering untold turmoil (We are guilty of murder+). 2, The potential beneficiaries of that Love Act.[20] (We are forgiven, able to engage with Deity, become his children through facing our guilt and accepting His transcending offer of forgiveness and restoration to a new life has His children).

“God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” Acts 2:22-24.

“Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent. You are witnesses of these things.’” Luke 24:46-48.

I wish I could say that Jesus’ followers have done an exemplary job of representing Him and displaying the same love, equity and service as Him. But the story of Christianity is a mishmash of highs and lows and everything in between.  But let’s not look at Christianity as a movement or a cause. See and ponder the revelation of Deity to all humankind. Deity sent his SON to this planet to make a way of peace and reconciliation. “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Cor. 5:19-21.

Please consider the implications of what is stated here. Deity truly does “heart” you, me, everyone more than we can fathom.

Blessings!


[1] All Bible quotations are from the New Living Translation.

[2] “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” Gen. 2:7.

[3] “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.’” Gen. 2:27-28.

[4] Eden, Gen. 2:8.

[5] Gen. 2:15-17.

[6] Gen. 3:7-8, 14-19, 21, 22-24; 4:8; 6:5-7; 11:4, 6-8 ???`

[7] Luke 2:8-15.

[8] Mat. 2:1-11.

[9] Luke 2:52.

[10] Even his band of 12, who stuck with him for 3 long years, was diverse group. A political zealot (Mat. 10:4), a political traitor (Mat. 10:3), fisherman (Mat. 4:18-22), and a thief and betrayer (John 12:4-6).

[11] Mat. 19:13-14.

[12] Luke 7:36-50, Luke 8:1-3; John 4:6-42; Mark 5:24-34; Luke 10:38-39

[13] Luke 11:4-6; Mark 10:46-52; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:12-14; Mat. 4:23

[14] Mat. 21:45-46; Mark 14:1-2; John 7:30-32; Mat. 23.

[15] Mat. 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:17-19.

[16] Mat. 27:31, 33-37, 54-56; John 19:25-27.

[17] Mark 15:33-34.

[18] Human language fails us here. Theologians will ask me to recant and denounce this description. They will vehemently say “Deity can’t break!” I will answer, “Nor can deity die. Nor can Holy Trinity be divided. Nor can Deity forsake Deity.” What happened that afternoon on a hill outside Jerusalem is above and beyond our comprehension and description. But the message, the impact, the relational meaning is inescapable. Deity “hearts” you, me, everyone to a degree that is inexplicable in human terms. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8.

[19] As stated in the previous footnote. We are talking about truths beyond our comprehension. Like a colony of ants trying to discuss quantum physics.

[20] Deity does not make peoples’ decisions for them; this is why we are “potential beneficiaries.” Deut. 30:19; Josh. 24:14-15; Rom. 6:16.

The Champion

Amidst darkness, confusion, and uncertainty, who do you want with you as you enter the new year?  May I offer a suggestion? Let’s go with the CHAMPION!

The newly announced “Beloved Son of God”[1] was handed over to the Diabolical One.[2]

Jesus … was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days. Luke 4:1-2.

Understand! This adversary is a thoroughly venomous, maniacal, self-consumed “hater of God” (and all that is good). His hatred burned especially toward God’s perfect Son.

There must have been parameters set by God, as we find he did regarding Job (Job 1:8-12; 2:3-6). But Diabolos was given 5 ½ weeks to wear Jesus down, emaciate him, and hit him hard from every angle.

We can read about the final three attacks that took place on the 40th day.

First of all, think for a minute what was required for this 40-day fast to happen.  Jesus had to be super healthy: physically, mentally and spiritually. It is possible for people to fast for 40 days or more, but it is an extremely rare – and very fit person – who can handle it.  Jesus was fit, strong and disciplined.[3] 

Imagine being alone for 40 days.  No conversations.[4] No stories, jokes, news, no media, nothing.  It is a rare person who can handle such isolation, let alone when accompanied by 40 days without food.  Add to this a hostile environment: Rugged, barren, burning during the day, cold during the nights.  Hyena’s howling, scorpions hiding, vipers brooding… Jesus was put through a real test![5]  

The curious, active mind we catch a glimpse of at age 12[6] certainly didn’t shut down during these 40 days of testing.  He had no scrolls to read.  No newspaper deliveries, no sports magazines.  Oh yes, and no social media. But he no doubt had a disciplined regimen of meditation which he followed through that long period of time.  He knew large contents of the Old Testament by rote and could work progressively through chapter and verse as he meditated on such grand things as his identity, his mission, and of course, the character and grace of His Father.

This was an opportune time to think through all these things.

During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

Note: Satan’s challenge (If you are the Son of God) is directly related to perhaps the last words Jesus had heard spoken (from heaven 40 days earlier), “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

There is strong innuendo in the Tempter’s question/statement/challenge: “That Father of yours has forgotten all about you! He doesn’t respect you enough to treat you the way you deserve!  Why should the “Son of God” be left destitute like this?  Do something about it!  Assert yourself!  Here’s some stones, at least make yourself some bread to eat!”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 

Jesus directly answered the innuendo. “I’m doing just fine!  My Father is supplying exactly what I need.  I am being fed, morning through night, on the bread of life, my Father’s word.  I am not looking for some silly bread to eat.  When my body absolutely needs it, I can trust my Father to provide in whatever way he chooses.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 

We don’t know the mechanics involved, but the sudden relocation from the barren, desolate no-mans-land of Judea to a high point overlooking the big city of Jerusalem had to have been a shock to Jesus’ already depleted system!  Visual stimulation, noise, smells, humans!  Internally, emotionally, Jesus could not have been prepared for this sudden and dramatic change.

and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off”

And did Satan encourage that jumping by standing him right on the edge, with a strong unsteady wind (and even rain?) blowing at his back?  Did he leave him in that dangerous position for a long time?  Did he time it so that crowds of people were down there waiting?  We don’t know. But in his weakened physical and emotional state Jesus must have been dizzy, somewhat confused, and groping for help in knowing what to do.

The Tempter continues, “…For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” 

The innuendo is again almost deafening: “So you say the word of God is all that is important to you.  Why don’t you show the whole world how much you trust in that word.  Jump!  God says he will catch you.  Let’s see how much you trust him!”  (Satan is wily).

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” 

This answer of Jesus is most clever.  He didn’t just extract a scripture text to answer the situation, he addresses the very heart of Satan’s challenge.  “I don’t need to prove that I trust God’s word.  I trust my Father implicitly – always have and always will.  For me to jump here is totally unnecessary, it would be a lack of faith on my part, it would be a “test” of God. That is unbelief, not faith.” (Consider Gideon in Judges 6:36-40).

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain

Another sock to the system.  Another sudden change of environment, climate, stimulation.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Evil One took his time here (as well as on the temple).  Why should he hurry?   This was his chance to get the upper hand.  Let Jesus feel the cold.  His emaciated body with no resistance; shivering, shaking, looking for warmth and protection. 

and showed him the kingdoms of the world and all their glory.  

I would think Satan started this diabolical video presentation with scenes of warmth, comfort, hot freshly-cooked food, (even if the video didn’t come complete with smells – and I wouldn’t put it past him to provide such a thing – Jesus’ human system would add the smells, the sounds, and create the cravings that Satan aimed for).  Satan is cruel, vicious, vindictive.  He was raving mad at being defeated twice already.  There is nothing good about him.  He had no mercy on our Lord.  After racking Jesus’ system with such sights and sounds and smells as would make any of us go mad in that situation, he must have continued to show wealth, comfort, opulence, and companionship, with the message being “join me and you will never suffer again!”

“I will give it all to you,” he said,

Innuendo: “Unlike your neglectful father, who raised your hopes at Jordan only to abandon you, I, yes I, will give you all of this.  You will never be short of food, clothes, and companionship ever again. No more suffering for you! The whole world is mine and I give it all to you for one small price.”

“…if you will kneel down and worship me.” 

The Tempter has given his best shot.  He weakened Jesus as much as he possibly could.  He offered him all that he could deliver, and packaged it in the best way.  The future of the universe now laid in the hands of the second Adam.  The first Adam was the one who handed control of the world over to Satan in the first place (1 John 5:19), Jesus is being asked to accept that ownership as legitimate.  Something that even in his tortured, weakened, very vulnerable state Jesus was not willing to do.

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”  Then the devil went away,

Do we appreciate what a great victory this was?  God allowed these 40 days for Satan to test Jesus.  Satan used all that was in his power to break him down, weaken him, and set him up for the fall.  Satan had witnessed starving Esau give up his birthright for a bowl of soup (Gen 25:29-34).  He arranged for Jesus to get more physically and emotionally desperate than Esau ever was, then he pumped him with visual stimuli to whip up all sorts of cravings, and then he offered Him far, far more than soup.  Satan tried his very best to bribe Him, to crack Him, but he failed totally, and had to leave in shame and rage.

and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Why the angels?  This shows how weakened and needy Jesus had become.  His very life was on the line.  He was in desperate need of help, of warmth, nourishment, and rest (Psa. 91:9-16).  Satan left him up there on the mountain.  Why should he have done otherwise?  But as soon as Jesus completed the test, God sent Him the help He needed (as he did with Elijah in 1 Kings 19:5-8, and countless other heroes through the ages and around the world).  This victory was no small accomplishment on Jesus’ part.  It exhausted Him, brought him near death.  But Jesus conquered! What a man Jesus is!  If you don’t have the utmost respect for Jesus then you don’t yet really know Him.

We are about to enter a new year. Amidst darkness, confusion, uncertainty,  who do you want to enter the new year with?  I choose Jesus, the champion over all that is contrary to God.

N.B. Lest you get a wrong idea from this story, Jesus was not a loner, he was the ultimate people-person. He will not attach himself to just you. He will give you his full attention, yes. But he will also give his full attention to your family members, your neighbors, the homeless, the widow, the orphan, your rivals or “enemies.” No one can walk with Jesus and not be challenged into massive transformation. The most annoying and obnoxious person in your life is loved by Jesus just as much as you are. You need to love that person too.


[1] Mat. 3:16-17, Luk. 3:21-22.

[2] Briefly described below.

[3] It is very unlikely this was the first time he fasted. Fasting is something that is learned through repeated practice, and Jesus was ready when this very long fast came up.

[4] And Jesus was no introvert. He was a people person in a society of people persons.

[5] If you don’t have the highest respect for Jesus then you really don’t know him. 

[6] Luke 2:46,47.