God’s amazing, unexpected love and the need for forgiveness

“By sin man’s whole nature is perverted and infected with self-will and self-love” (Group of Anglican Evangelicals). Any honest individual must admit this to be right. But before going any deeper in the topic, let’s first analyze the true nature of Humankind, which people often avoid.

Philosophers through the centuries have analyzed the sinful, evil nature of humanity. Dag Hammarskjӧld, a Swedish Nobel Peace Prize winner and author, has written, “It’s our perversity which makes our unselfish service of others the foundation of our own self-esteem”. This makes us wonder whether all our actions and characteristics are based on pride and self-esteem or not. For example, when we make a big donation to our Church or any other organization, don’t we expect our name to be read out loud or printed for everybody to hear or read? Or even our name to be hung where everybody can see it? As the great philosopher Thomas Hobbes had once stated, "Thus, in my view, the first principle of human behavior is egoism, or self-interest, and it is this egoism, that was the root of all social conflict." To contradict this saying would be to contradict one’s self.

In this context, Martin Luther King has said, “homo in se incurvatus”, which means “man curved in on himself”. Every desire of Humankind is to lift oneself up, the good of others come second place. The human perversity is so great that we even use God to achieve our ends.

Emil Brunner, a Swiss Theologian, has observed, “A superficial person is one who has not yet perceived that evil is entwined with the very roots of one’s personality”. We can see how Sin is truly integrated in the essence of our life and personality. Brunner’s definition of Sin is such a profound one: “Sin is the desire for the autonomy of man; therefore, in the last resort, it is the denial of God and self-deification. It is getting rid of the Lord God and the proclamation of self-sovereignty”. Every human being wants and thinks he/she can accomplish his/her desires, so one puts immediately himself/herself above all else and therefore wants to get rid of God and put oneself in the Supreme Being’s place. This might sound hard to digest but if one really comes to think of it, that’s how serious the case of Sin is.

After this brief analysis of humanity we can see the impossibility of being accepted in the eyes of God and the need for Atonement arises.

It is at that moment when we realize the evil of Sin, and we come to know the blinding holiness of the Lord, that we face reality and the need for forgiveness and ask ourselves this question: “How can I, a lost and guilty sinner, stand before a just and a holy God?” We can see examples of characters in the Bible that couldn’t stand the blinding holiness of God: “Moses was afraid to look at God, and so he hid his face” (Exodus 3:6); “I realized I was seeing the brightness of the Lord’s glory! So I bowed with my face to the ground, and just then I heard a voice speaking to me” (Ezekiel 1:28); still “When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead person” (Revelation 1:7).

If you think this is so overwhelming just wait. The one and only way we are accepted in God’s eyes is through his unexpected, awesome love that He has for us. How can someone like God love us after we, mere creatures, have tried to take His majestic place so many times? This is the incredible aspect of God’s love towards us. The amazing aspect of this love is that the Lord wants to take the initiative to show us His path of forgiveness and love as Paul said to the Corinthians, “What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world” (2 Corinthians 5:19). If this isn’t overwhelming and flabbergasting, I don’t know what is.

Who wants to show kindness and love to an awful person or to his enemy? It is hard, but our Lord did it, “Even when we were God’s enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us” (Romans 5:10).

Finally, John 3:16 has much more content than we think. “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die”. When light shines upon us we become secondary sources and project light as well. In the same way, Christ showed His love to the world. It is our duty to show this unexpected, amazing love to everyone else.

Vahé Jébéjian