If you’ve hung out in my neck of the woods for very long, you know that on Wednesdays, my sweet pastor-blogger friend, Jason and I co-facilitate a book discussion. It’s open to everyone—not just folks that are keeping up with the reading. Today, we are discussing Chapter 3 of Craig Groeschel’s The Christian Atheist.
But in case you’ve been away from the neighborhood a couple of weeks…
Now, let’s move on.
Chapter 3 – When You Believe in God but Aren’t Sure He Loves You
“So,” Amber leafed through the stack of papers in her hands, shuffling them into alphabetical order, “What made you decide to follow Jesus?”
I looked up from the stack of papers in my hands. The question only mildly surprised me. We had been telling funny old stories all evening and now that the hour was late, it was natural that the talk would turn serious.
I grew up in church and I never really remember a time that I didn’t believe in God. I don’t remember ever not believing that Jesus died and rose again. But somehow, I never knew that He wanted a relationship with me. That He wanted me to talk to Him and that He wanted to talk to me. And that one day, He wants me to come be with Him. When I started to realize that He loved me, that changed everything. That made all the difference.
As an abused 8-year-old, I didn’t know Jesus loved me and so when my abuser told me he loved me, I thought that was what love meant.
But trying to find a love that fit that same description devastated me just as much at eleven and eighteen as it did at 8. By the time I was twenty-two, I had slowly and painfully come to the realization that love was about something much different than being used and mistreated. And that’s when I really started to grasp The God Kind of Love.
On page 60 of The Christian Atheist, Groeschel says, “My whole life I’ve heard the phrase ‘God loves you.’ I’ve seen it on bumper stickers, heard it in sermons, and listened to it in songs on Christian radio. It’s one thing to hear this with our ears, and another to understand it with our hearts.”
I think this is where last week’s discussion on shame comes into play…
“We hide our real selves from other people to ensure they won’t reject us. How much more we hide from God! There’s just no way God could love someone as undeserving and evil as I am.” (p. 61)
For me, at age twenty-two, that went more like this: “I’ve been promiscuous and lived a hypocritical life of lies to cover it. Now, how could God love someone who has done this? How could God love someone as undeserving and evil as I am?”
And the answer is:
“Because I am love.” (1 John 4:16)
“Because I created you.” (Psalm 139:13)
“Because I remember your sin no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)
Have you ever felt unloved by God? If so, how did you realize His love for you?
To borrow a quote from a previous post of mine (which Groeschel mirrored perfectly in this chapter): “There’s nothing you can do to make God love you one ounce more and there’s nothing you can do to make God love you one ounce less. He just loves you.” – John Hobbs, Sr.
Have you written a post about Chapter 3? If so, we’d love to read it! You can link it here: