by Steve Lawson
As we consider the “Impact of the Cross” on our lives we must realize that one of the greatest impacts is the realization of God’s great love for us even before we responded to the message of the cross. There is probably no greater summary of God’s love than that found in John 3:16. Here God expresses his love for us as “unconditional.”
The topic of God’s love is truly an overwhelming subject. There is so much that the Bible has to say about the love of God that I doubt anyone has ever come close to fully comprehending it. A.W. Tozer once said, “I can no more do justice to this awesome and wonder-filled topic than a child can grasp a star. Still, by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. And so, I stretch my heart toward the high, shining love of God so that we may be encouraged to look up and have hope.”
In John 3:16 (ESV) Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It is only one sentence, 24 words, but it carries such impact on our lives in how God’s love changes us, our hopes, our relationships, our future and our very being. When we experience the cross and begin a relationship with Jesus Christ that love becomes a powerful force in our lives. The fact that God loves us – period – is overwhelming. His love does not begin when we respond to the call to salvation, but he loves all the world while we’re still sinful, lost people. His love is unconditional to all of us – those alienated from God, hostile to the cause of Christ, Jews and Gentile alike – God loves us!
At a comparative religion conference the debate over what makes Christianity unique over other religions of the world was taking place among religious scholars. Many characteristics of our beliefs were brought out – the incarnation, the resurrection, our future hope in the kingdom – all were questioned and found to be present in other religions. C.S. Lewis joined the debate, and after hearing some of the conversation he simple said, “It’s Grace”! Lewis continued that Christianity uniquely claims God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim.
Buddhists follow an eight-fold path to enlightenment. Hindus believe in karma, that your actions continually affect the way the world will treat you. Jewish code of the law implies God has requirements for people to be acceptable to him. Islam’s god is a god of judgment, not a god of love. Only Christianity dares to proclaim God’s love is unconditional, a love that we call grace.
So God’s love for us is unconditional. It is as Philip Yancey once wrote: “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.” As we consider the “Impact of the Cross” remember Christ’s love for us that drove him to face that cross in our place and how that love changes us!