In a generation that believes they are self-important, special, and unique, telling them God loves them unconditionally may be akin to telling water that it is wet. Should we tell GenMe that God unconditionally loves them? How does one communicate the truth of God’s love without feeding the narcissism of the age? David Powlison makes a great distinction between unconditional love and the Gospel. He writes:
The Gospel is better than unconditional love. The Gospel says, “God accepts you just as Christ is. God has ‘contraconditional’ love for you.” Christ bears the curse you deserve. Christ is fully pleasing to the Father and gives you His own perfect goodness. Christ reigns in power, making you the Father’s child and coming close to you to begin to change what is unacceptable to God about you. God never accepts me “as I am.” He accepts me “as I am in Jesus Christ.” The center of gravity is different. The true Gospel does not allow God’s love to be sucked into the vortex of the soul’s lust for acceptability and worth in and of itself. Rather, it radically decenters people—what the Bible calls “fear of the Lord” and “faith”—to look outside themselves.
Read the entire article: Idols of the Heart and “Vanity Fair.
I once heard Tim Keller say, “Jesus’ death only has subjective value for you if it had objective value for you.” To illustrate this consider the following: I love Jimmy. If he and I are walking through a busy parking lot and I say to him, “Hey Jimmy! See how much I love you.” And then I dive in front of an oncoming car and am killed. I’ve not loved him but rather given him a rather disturbing and haunting image for the rest of his life. But…if an oncoming car is about to strike Jimmy and I push him out of the way and I take the hit rather than Jimmy, now that act has real subjective meaning for Jimmy. Jesus’ death was necessary because I needed Him to take the hit of God’s wrath in my place. He bore the curse, wore the crown of thorns, had the nails driven that should have been mine.
God’s love is amazing. He bids everyone to come without cost. Well…without cost to us but life ending cost to Jesus. I am humbled through the knowledge that Jesus had to die for me but lifted by the knowledge he was glad to do it. Teach and preach the objective act of Christ…and let the contra-conditional love of Christ flow!