The doctrine of God’s love is dangerous and difficult to accept. Dangerous because it can easily be taken for granted and difficult because it can sound too good to be true. Apathy and disbelief are two extreme opposites on the same coin. What’s their cause? In my experience, I think I tend toward disbelief more than apathy. This isn’t because I do not find the doctrine to be true per se, but that I don’t find it to be applicable to me.
I make this exception because I realize the depths of my sin and I place emphasis on God’s wrath over His love. After all, if I was God I would damn myself for an eternity. Time after time I have shown how worthless my thoughts and deeds are. I’ve missed opportunities to be a witness to the gospel and I fail to do what is needed for the good of those around me. Like a dog I return to my vomit (Prov 26:11) and I repeatedly act like a brute beast toward Him (Psalms 73:22). I selfishly twist every good thing for building my ego.
The Bottomless Pit of Wrath
What kind of God could tolerate such disgusting behavior? Surely it is worthy of the worst of hell’s agonizing flames. Once I begin to enter into this mindset, I begin to doubt that He wishes to save me. I wholeheartedly believe that He is the only who can save me, but I lose hope that He will save me because nothing about me has seemed to change. Perhaps I thought I was saved, but if I was, then surely I would’ve changed?
This leads to disbelief that God loves me and turns into a belief that He hates me with all of His being. I begin to think that I cannot be saved because I see how others have been freed of their sins while I still seem to remain in bondage to them. How can God’s power be ineffective in my life if it is truly dwelling in me?
After being in this mindset for some time, I begin to be apathetic because if I am destined to be in sin then what can I do except continue to be a constant failure. Maybe if I could just experience God’s love then things would be different. I sought this mystical union with God but then I felt even more abandoned when I received nothing in response. This left me falling into a bottomless pit for which I did not think I could ever escape. The comforting words of God seemed to apply to everyone else but me.
But this was simply a lie. The conditions for losing one’s salvation (well, if you believe in that kind of thing) and becoming beyond redemption is stated in Hebrews 6:4-6 and Mathew 12:31. That by itself shows that I’m not beyond redemption. Second, I realized that no one seeks God without God drawing them to Himself (John 6:44). I couldn’t be in this misery or pain in the first place if it wasn’t for the fact that God had already been drawing me.
This by itself is the remedy to the problem that I had with God’s love. It proves that He loves me because He is actively involved in moving my heart to seek Him. Nonbelievers, on the other hand, are completely apathetic about God and believe they are just fine without Him. Something so simple can instantly destroy thoughts that can appear to be so indestructible at certain points in your life. The truth does indeed set you free and it’s all that you need.
Some people would tell me that all I need to do is to love myself and recognize that I’m not a bad person. I think that’s terrible advice. Yes, I’m valuable in God’s sight because I’m made in His image and saved by His son (regardless of my failures), but I don’t need to beautify my own self-image by denying the magnitude of my sin in order to escape disbelief. That’s just replacing one lie for another lie. I might be overly harsh on myself, sure, but I am not going to outrightly deny my sin.
It’s possible to both recognize the depths of your sin while recognizing the the depths of God’s love. In fact, this is the only true remedy because if you reject your sinfulness then inevitably you will become apathetic toward God’s love. But if you reject the love of God you inevitably are destroyed by disbelief. It is only through truly knowing the depths of God’s holiness and the depths of our sin that we can fully come to appreciate the depths of God’s love.