Forgetting God’s Transcendence Cheapens His Love

The church today makes a big deal about God’s love, and His closeness to His people. They’re not wrong to do so, it’s one of the major distinctions between Christianity and false religions. However, there is a tendency in our day to over-emphasize God’s closeness, to the point of turning His love into gross sentimentalism. In its worst form, it turns God into little more than our cosmic boyfriend, who’s just consumed with reckless love for us. This error cheapens God’s love, and fails to show how truly glorious it is. On this view, God’s love isn’t that special, it’s not much more than the love of one human for another.

What we miss, that can lead us to cheapen God’s love for us, is His transcendence; the fact that He is entirely above us in every way, as He says in Isaiah 55:8-9:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

God is not our equal, He is infinitely our better. We are closer to grasshoppers than God is to us; He condescends to even look on us. He has no need of us, and He never did. This makes His love more glorious than the sappy, sentimental idea of love that we can slip into. He loves us, not because of anything in us, or because of some overflow of emotion on His part, but rather because He chose to, because it is His nature. Although He is fully aware of our sins and flaws, more than we could ever be, He loves us anyway. He chose to cross the vast gulf between Himself and mankind, not because He needs us, but because we need Him. This is a much greater love than the love between two equals; the love of the greater towards the inferior, the love of the infinitely holy towards the wretched.

By proclaiming not just that God loves us, but how far He stoops to do so, we will show just how much He loves us. It’s not that special for someone to love their equal; but we recognize the virtue of loving someone who is of lesser status than us. God’s love towards us, who are infinitely lower than Him, shows just how glorious He truly is, and how greatly He loves us.

So we see that the sappy, sentimental ideas of God’s love, while claiming to make much of His love, do just the opposite, by omitting God’s transcendence and cheapening His love to be just like our own love.

The next time you think of God’s love, remember that this is no mere human love, but that the greatest Being in the universe has stooped to love you, who have no claim on his attention or affection, and that he loves you personally; not because you happen to be part of some favored group.

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