Although these words were written by a young pastor specifically for other pastors, his point should be thoughtfully considered by anyone involved in children’s and youth ministry, and parents as well.
My generation has been big on propagating the “Jesus loves me” mantra. And he does. And praise him that he does. Without God’s self-initiating love towards me, I would be lost in hell forever. The love of God is our sacred doctrine.
But it is possible to abuse it. There is more to God than “God loves me.” There is more to my relationship with God than “God loves me.” Not every sin in our lives is exclusively due to a failure to sufficiently ponder how much God loves us. Perhaps some of our sins are attributed to thinking “God loves me” too much.
I wonder if my generation sometimes cries “God loves me” to distract ourselves. Perhaps other attributes of God are not fashionable enough in our day. Like the embarrassing uncle at a family reunion for whom we have to apologize, perhaps we are embarrassed to give necessary attention to God’s other attributes. Perhaps we cloak a repulsion for giving biblical effort to sanctification with “God loves me.”
…The God of the Bible is a God of unspeakable majesty; so much so, that he rerouted his righteous wrath from his elect Bride to his impeccable Son. By election, redemption, and regeneration, sinners are sealed. A previous people were broken off to give way for our election-inclusion. The ethical imperative of God’s love is man’s fear. “Do not become proud, but fear” (Rom. 11:20).
…The ministry is a place of sobriety, not silliness; of holiness, not hip-ness.
(From “Young Pastors & Fighting From Falling” by Eric Davis at thecripplegate.com)
One way we can avoid abusing the wonderful doctrine of “God loves me” is to make sure we provide our students and children with a robust theology of God—one which includes a more sober and comprehensive scope of His divine attributes. Here are some words from the late Jerry Bridges that I hope and pray we will take to heart and reflect with increasing measure in our homes and classrooms:
In our day we must begin to recover a sense of awe and profound reverence for God. We must begin to view Him once again in the infinite majesty that alone belongs to Him who is the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the entire universe. (page 21)
In our day we seem to have magnified the love of God almost to the exclusion of the fear of God. Because of this preoccupation we are not honoring God and reverencing Him as we should. We should magnify the love of God; but although we revel in His love and mercy, we must never lose sight of His majesty and His holiness.
Not only will a right concept of the fear of God cause us to worship God aright, it will also regulate our conduct. (page 22)
The love of God has no meaning apart from Calvary. And Calvary has no meaning apart from the holy and just wrath of God. Jesus did not die just to give us peace and a purpose in life; He died to save us from the wrath of God. He died to reconcile us to a holy God who was alienated from us because of our sin. He died to ransom us from the penalty of sin—the punishment of everlasting destruction, shut out from the presence of the Lord. He died that we, the just objects of God’s wrath, should become, by His grace, heirs of God and co-heirs with Him. (page 24)
(From The Practice of Godliness—Godliness Has Value for All Things, copyright©1996)