Did you ever watch the show PERSON of Interest?
There are basically three Main Characters in the show.
1. The Computer Genius and financer. He has written a computer program that collects and sorts data to determine who is in trouble or who is about to commit a crime.
2. The Muscle – The computer genius sits behind a screen and talks to the Muscle who then intervenes to prevent people from committing crimes or intervenes to protect the innocent.
3. AI – the computer program written to figure out how to make the world a safer, more humane place.
The primary character is this ever growing and expanding computer program that makes connections and solves complex problems and moves people and machines around like pawns to create the ideal outcome
Without the help of scripture, I can sometimes think of God like that computer program in Person of Interest.
He is at His giant whiteboard running complex algorithms and sorting through data to try and make the world work and run as it should.
When I think of God as a really complex and super powerful computer software, I am not thinking about God in the right way.
God is a relational being.
Genesis 1 – Let us make man in our image.
Let us – God is a Trinity. Three Persons and One essence. He is relational. He has always existed in perfect relationship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
What was God doing before He made the world?
Tiff and I had a day without kids and we thought… what did we do before kids?
What did God do before the world?
He existed as He always had in perfect, loving relationship – Father, Son, and Spirit.
As a relational being, God is also emotional.
Let me read some scriptures from the OT that express some of God’s emotional nature
God is grieved: Gen 6:5 The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain.
God feels compassion: Exodus 3:7 I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.
Moses talking to Israel: Duet. 7:7-8
The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other people, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers and that he brought you out with a mighty hand.
So at the center of the universe is a perfect being – God.
He feels. He relates and He is love.
Humanity is made in His image. Meaning..
- Each individual person has intrinsic value.
- We bear some of His qualities.
Caleb, my son, has hair color like mine. He is made in my image.
If I want to express God’s image as a relational / emotional being, what is one quality of God that I want to grow in?
The quality is love.
Let’s read a passage to help us better understand what God’s love is like.
1 John 4:7-13
Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
4 Words to Describe God’s Love.
They all start with “E.” I was not trying to be clever. I just had two “E” words and then couldn’t shake the other two “E” words from my mind.
Enduring means – always remains
Verse 8 says “God is love”
God has always been.
God is perfect and unchanging.
God is love. Love is part of His intrinsic nature. If God endures, His love endures.
Last week I had a plumbing problem at my house. A faucet broke and water was running constantly. I had to shut off the valve to fix the problem.
The flow of water was enduring until I shut it off.
God’s love has no shut off valve.
In Hosea, God tells the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute.
Hosea’s marriage is an illustration of God’s enduring love for Israel even though Israel is unfaithful.
Hosea 1:2 Go take an adulterous wife because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.
Hosea 3:1 Go show your love to your wife again. Though she is loved by another and is adulterous. Love her as the Lord loves Israel, though they turn to other gods.
God’s love for Israel endured. His love endures.
Verse 9 “This is how God showed his love among us”
God’s feeling of affection towards people – humanity – was put into action.
Throughout the OT there are references over and over to the Exodus story, when God brought the people out of slavery in Egypt.
The people are told to remember the Exodus story because that is when God showed His love.
To Him who struck down the firstborn in Egypt
And brought out Israel from among them
With a mighty hand and outstretched arm
His Love endures forever.
God’s love endures and is expressed.
Verse 9 again – This is how God showed His love among us. He sent His one and only son into the world that we might live through Him.
God the Father, sent His Jesus as an expression of His love. This expression was costly.
The Son has always been in perfect fellowship and relationship with Father and Holy Spirit.
Jesus has lived in perfect union for all of time with the Father but there on the cross, God the Father turns His back on Jesus. And Jesus cries out.
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me.”
We can barely imagine the pain of the separation that Jesus experiences.
Tiffany is the most precious person on the planet to me. I have known her for 24 years. To surrender her and my connection with her would be very difficult. Our closeness is just a glimpse of the closeness of the Father and Son.
The Father gave the Son. The Son willfully surrendered Himself.
God’s love is costly.
Verse 10 He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Last week we sang –
On the cross where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.
This line in the song is speaking of atonement.
There are many volumes written and sermons given about the atoning work of Jesus – as there should be.
We could talk and ask questions at length about the atonement.
For today, I want to say two things about the effective work of the atonement…
1 – It works.
We should experience wrath but instead we receive forgiveness.
if we accept God’s love He looks on us with favor rather than condemnation.
2 – The Atonement is Beautiful.
God, existing in perfect relationship created humanity for Himself.
Humanity turns their back and God.
The only way for us to enjoy God is for God to make a way back.
The only way for there to be a way back is for God to be the way.
The creator indwells the creation, suffers and dies to make a way.
It is Aslan in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe going to the stone table to sacrifice himself for Edmund.
This is God’s love. It is Enduring, Expressed, Expensive, and Effective.
What it means to BE human is to BE loved by God.
You cannot escape His intense affection expressed in giving His Son on the cross.
You can ignore it but you cannot escape it.
His love is like standing in a Kansas field on a clear, sunny day. There is no shade. You cannot escape the warmth and light of the sun.
God loves me. God loves you. He is an emotional and relational being.
We are made in His image, emotional and relational beings.
If it is true that God loves me with enduring affection why don’t I feel like God loves me?
Good question. Let’s talk first about a general approach to emotions before we talk about why I don’t feel God’s affection.
Emotions sometimes control us.
Emotions do not control God. Emotions in God are an expression of reality.
When emotions control us, we let them dictate reality and our response
Can we let our emotions instruct us about reality rather than dictate reality?
Emotions come and go like waves.
We want to ride the wave rather than be rolled by the wave of emotions.
Ride the wave – feel the emotion, examine the emotion, respond to reality
Rolled by the wave – feel the emotion, give the emotion control, let the emotion crash over you over and over
How do you ride the wave of emotions?
Look at your emotions from a third-person perspective.
Pull out your emotion. Set it up on the examination table.
Rodney, you are feeling irritated right now. Let’s take that feeling out and examine it.
Are you irritated because you are not getting your way?
Are you irritated because someone is mistreating you?
Are you irritated because you have unclear, uncommunicated or unrealistic expectations?
One mistake I have made in dealing with emotions is stuffing my emotions.
At one point in my life, I bottled up feelings of discouragement and disappointment and my habit of bottling my emotions almost led me to disillusionment with God and the church.
People saw it in me.
I felt it but I ignored what I was feeling.
I thought… “Rodney – you should not feel this way.”
“You cannot tell anyone you feel like this”
“They will be disappointed in you.”
What I needed to do was
- Taken my emotions to God
- Taken my emotions to friends – the church
I should have followed the example of the Psalms and taken my emotions to God.
Do not hear me say I should have nursed disappointment, but rather expressed the feelings of disappointment, examined the disappointment and responded to reality
Bring your emotions to God or even your lack of emotions. Bring your emotions to people.
Our emotions are a gift. They point us to relationship with God and others.
Back to our question –
Why don’t I feel like God loves me?
Why do I feel like God is disappointed with me or angry with me?
Let’s take that emotion out and examine it.
One reason you may feel that way… You are not His child
If you are not God’s child then you would not feel that happy when you think about the God of the Bible.
He would sound like a mean dad that always wants to spoil your fun.
- Don’t have sex outside of marriage
- Don’t give into your anger
- Don’t complain
- Don’t be boastful.
If you are God’s child and you have trusted the love of the Father you begin to realize – these rules are here for my flourishing and my protection.
You can become God’s child by trusting in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross.
John 1:12 To those who receive him to those who believe in His name, he gave them the right to become sons of God.
God may feel like a tyrant to you because you have never received His love and become His child.
Why don’t I feel like God loves me?
Maybe you are His child but you are ignoring Him.
Instead of awareness of God’s love you feel shame, sorrow, or guilt.
That’s great… You feel shame! Shame is not a curse but a gift.
Take that shame out and put it up on the examination table.
Do I have reason to feel shame? Is there a hidden sin in my life?
Confess it. Ask for forgiveness and walk away from it.
A short time ago I felt sorrow over some missed opportunities in my life.
I was reminded of 2 Cor 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow leads to death.”
I felt sorrow. I took that sorrow out and put it up on the examination table.
It was godly sorrow because it dealt with a specific situation and a specific behavior.
I thanked God for the sorrow. I expressed the sorrow in tears.
I asked God to use this sorrow as a reminder to keep me from repeating this pattern in my life.
Those are negative emotions, Rodney.
I want to feel God’s affection.
I want to sense his pleasure.
- Think often and deeply about God’s love. He has affection for you that endures.
1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
Sing of God’s love.
- Love One Another
“Dear friends since God so loved us we ought to love one another. No one has seen God but if we love one another God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
Ought = the word in greek means obligation.
Because God has placed His love in us we are obligated to love others.
Does Obligation seem like a “bad word” to you?
Rodney… It is your Obligation to love… It is your duty!
Secret – The more I practice selflessly loving others… I actually like it.
It feels good!
Look at that verse again…What is the result of loving others?
“If we love one another God lives in us and his LOVE is made complete in us.
Remember from last week we leak power and perspective.
Ephesians 5:18 Be filled with the Spirit – literally keep on being filled.
How do we keep being filled?
As we express love to others, we experience more of His love.
It is like this constant feedback loop. The more we express God’s love to others, the more He lives in us and His love is made complete in us.
We do not love others in order to “GET” God’s love, but because we already have received God’s love.
Rodney, It is hard to love people… they are annoying… they drive slow… they don’t show up on time… they talk too much… they don’t talk enough… they… they…
All those “They’s” out there are also made in God’s image just like I am.
They deserve love and affection.
How do I love?
Follow God’s example of love. It was expressed, it was expensive. It was effective.
Let’s think about costly or expensive love for minute.
What would costly love look like for you?
For me it would look like – Being Present With People.
Being present means I give you my ATTENTION.
What is the one thing that I can give you that no one else can give you?
- Listen to you
- Look at you
- Ask clarifying questions.
- Ignore my phone and sit with you because you are the person God has given me to love right now.
What would effective love look like?
Think of those people God has given you to love. How is love best communicated to them?
Recently I revisited the 5 Love Languages Book. Written in 1992. You are probably familiar with the book.
The book claims we have 1 of 5 languages of love that we prefer.
Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Gifts, Words of Affirmation.
To love someone effectively according to the book you need to identify their language and communicate love in that fashion.
The principle of the book is Biblical and “Look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.”
Each of my kids has a different language of love. If I want to be effective in loving them, I have to express love in the language they prefer.
We are made in God’s image.
We are emotional, relational beings because God is an emotional relational being.
Emotions can be thought of as a nuisance. I should be more like the heartless computer in Person of Interest.
Stuff these emotions get rid of them.
Exalt emotions… these feelings are the MOST important thing.
Let emotions do their work. Let them guide us to relationship with God and others.
Rest in God’s love. It endures.
Receive God’s love.
In His love, faithfully love others.