God's Love for Me, Part 1
From the series Jesus Loves Me
We’ve all heard people refer to God as “our Father.” In fact, Jesus did too! But have you ever stopped and thought about God as our parent? In this program, guest teacher John Dickerson considers the different meanings of those words as he continues his series, Jesus Loves Me. Hear how God would respond as a parent to the pain and difficulty of our lives.
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About this series
Jesus Loves Me
Christian Essentials for the Head and the Heart
Do you know the core beliefs of Christianity? Forget what churches, denominations, or notable pastors say for a second - what do God and His Word actually state are the essential truths to being a follower of Jesus? In this 10-part series, journalist, author, and pastor John Dickerson helps us uncover the foundational building blocks of the Christian faith. By using the simple children’s song - Jesus Loves Me - John reveals what these lyrics tell us about God, His love for us, and the reliability of the Bible. So whether you’re a new Christian looking for guidance or you’ve been a believer your whole life - and you need a refresher, John’s words will encourage you!More from this series
When we say, “Jesus loves me,” what do we mean? What does God see when He sees us? Who are you in the eyes of God? And I think you’re going to be really, really encouraged and informed as we answer that question today.
But what kind of parent is God? You know, in this crazy world of humans where all kinds of people are doing all kinds of things, what kind of parent is He? What does God see when He sees humanity?
You know, because, I mean, if you think of it from God’s point of view, He sees all the drug deals happening, He sees the pregnant mom who is smoking crack cocaine, but He also sees the loving dad who is teaching his daughter how to ride a bicycle. He sees the whole thing. He sees all of it.
To make it a little more personal, what does God see when He sees you? When God looks at you, does He just see all the flaws? Is He like a perfectionist kind of God who has got his arms crossed and is just like, “You know, you’re never going to measure up.” And He only sees all your flaws. Or is He one of those kinds of, you know, bubbly, somewhat Millennial parents who are like, “Oh, everything is perfect with my child!
They don’t do anything wrong, you know?” Like, where is God on this? Does He see the bad, does He see the good, does He see all of me? What does He see when He sees me? And what does He see when He sees you?
Today we are going to play a little game to start with, okay? And the game is called this. The game is called: What do you see? Because we are asking: What does God see when He sees us? So, I want to ask you: What do you see?
And I’m going to show you a few different pictures. And if you want to blurt it out, you can. If you just want to think it, it’s fine. But here’s picture number one. What do you see? And I see some rust, I think I see some plants, some decaying plants. Now, let’s go to picture number two. These are related. Okay, now we are starting to see, at least some of the car people see that that’s either an inline six or maybe a V-12.
We are starting to see something that looks like junk. Now, let’s take another picture. This is a different picture, but a similar theme. And more people are maybe recognizing it now. That’s right, I heard “car” – that’s a split window Corvette. Pretty rare Corvette, pretty valuable Corvette. And last but not least, what do you see? What we have here – two cars, that’s correct – and these two cars were found in a barn in France.
These two cars, that’s a Ferrari and a Maserati, they were found in this barn in France and in this present condition, these cars are rotted and decayed. The brakes don’t work, the engine won’t start, all the rubber pieces have rotted. And, yet, as ruined as they are, these cars are glorious. They are glorious to any car enthusiast because of who made them, because of what they represent.
In fact, did you know this car on the left, this is a Ferrari 250 – this exact car sold in this condition, the magazines were on it and everything. Obviously wasn’t going to start up. So, someone bought a car that is not going to take them anywhere, a car that does not run, and here’s how much they paid for this Ferrari in this condition.
Not two million dollars, but twenty-three million dollars for this Ferrari 250. Why would someone do that? Well, maybe they have too much money, okay? I heard someone say that. That’s probably part of the equation, okay?
But this car is valuable to anyone who loves cars because of who made it and because of what it is. And so, whether or not it can perform, it’s inherently valuable. These cars are what I would call a glorious ruin. They are both glorious in that they are a Ferrari and a Maserati and what they represent and who hand-crafted them. But they are also ruined to some extent. They are decayed.
And this is exactly how God sees you and me and the world we live in. You see, every person around us is a glorious ruin. And just like a car enthusiast would look at that split window Corvette or look at that Ferrari and say, “It’s glorious the way it is. I mean, I would take it the way it is. I would be happy to have it in my garage the way it is, even though it’s ruined.” But a true car enthusiast says, “And I love it so much that I want to restore it back to its original glory. What it was intended to be and to do. It’s valuable whether or not it performs, even in its ruined state, but I would love to restore it.”
And this is how God views all of humanity. That every single person of every gender, of every race, of every belief system, of every political party, people with disabilities, infants, babies in their mothers’ wombs, old people in nursing homes – all of them are inherently valuable because they are made in the image of God, and He sees glory in every person.
And, yet, there’s a catastrophic divorce, a tear that has happened in the fabric of the universe that ripped us away from God. Satan came into this world and this thing called “sin” has separated all of us from God.
And so, we all have this corrosion, this rust, if you will, on us. And we are all ruined to some extent. And God sees both the glory and the ruin in every one of us, and He sees it with the eyes of someone who says, “I love them as they are, but I love them so much that I’d love to restore them to what they could fully be.”
Romans 5, verse 17 puts it this way, “For the sin of this one man, Adam,” who is that? That’s Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the beginning of God’s story with humanity. When He said, “I have given you a free will and I want you to be with Me in heaven, eternal life, and no pain or suffering, but you can choose to turn away from Me.” And we saw that Adam and Eve did choose to turn away from God.
And so, just like children who grow up in a home where mom and dad choose to divorce, we didn’t necessarily pick this, but our spiritual ancestors did. And every one of us have been infected by this sin that ripped us away from God. And every one of us, if we are honest, have had a moment where we have chosen to turn away from God in some behavior or some action or some thought. And that has caused death to rule over many.
It’s because of that that our bodies wear out and die. It’s because of this that our relationships sometimes die.
But here’s the good news. Even greater is God’s wonderful grace. What is grace? It’s when you get something that you don’t deserve. And His gift of righteousness.
We looked at the word “loves” in Jesus Loves Me, that God’s love for you is not just some warm, gushy feeling or emotion. It’s a love that was proven in actions. And He proved it when He went to the cross and He said, “I will pay the price to reach her. I will pay the price to reach him.” He paid a lot more than twenty-three million dollars to rescue you in your decayed state, because He sees value in you.
And now this gift of salvation, it’s not something we earn, but we receive it by faith. And when we do, the righteousness of Jesus, the perfection, the holiness of Jesus is applied to us and where we were separated from God, we get restored back to God.
This righteousness is for all who receive it. And those who receive it will live in triumph, victory over two specific things. You can live in victory over sin. That is those decisions and those habits that hurt you and hurt the people around you. Those thought patterns, those addictions, those behaviors that are bad for you and the people around you. Through Jesus, you can have triumph over all those things that God calls sin.
And through Jesus you can have triumph over death, meaning that when your body wears out in this earth, you will wake up in the presence of your Creator and you will look down and you’ll say, “Whoa. I really look good,” because God starts the restoration process for us in our heart, in our soul in this life. And in heaven, actually Scripture says we will have a glorified body. Which, as a car person, is a neat idea, because the body is the outside of the car, the metal of the car, the hood and the doors. That’s all called the body.
And when you restore a car, you start with the engine and the heart and the internals, and the body is the final thing you do. And all this is possible through this Man Jesus, the Christ.
So, what does all this mean for you? Well, if you’re a believer in Jesus it means three things. And if you’re considering believing in Jesus, I want to share these with you today. The first is when you look in the mirror and you say, “Who am I?” you can know this. Well, I’m a glorious ruin and I’m being restored.
So, who are you? You’re not who your co-workers say you are. You’re not who your boss says you are. You’re not how your parents label you or define you. You’re not your GPA or your net worth. You’re not your age or your job title. You are made in the image of God and you are inherently valuable, and no one can strip that away from you. Whether they see it or not, God sees it. The Master of the universe sees it. You’re inherently valuable to Him.
Just as much as me or any other car enthusiast would look at that Ferrari 250 and say, “That thing is inherently valuable.” That’s how God feels about you. And is it true that there’s some ruin in each of our lives? Yes, it is. It is true. Each of us have some habits or some things we have done or things that have been done to us that are broken. And that’s okay. That’s okay, because, you know, apart from God you might think that those things define you. But those things don’t define you. Yeah, those things are part of your story right now, but they will become part of the past as you allow God to continue restoring you. He does the work in this life and He’ll finish it in the next life.
Well, what does all this mean for you? It also means this, that where others see junk, God sees treasure. We have all had those people in our lives who, when they look at us, they only see our flaws. They only see what’s wrong with us. And maybe that person in your life is yourself. Maybe you look in the mirror or your look at yourself and all you can see is what is broken.
Those four pictures I showed you when we played our game, “What do you see?” at first a lot of people thought we’re looking at junk. We are looking at scrap. We’re looking at stuff that should be sent to the junkyard and melted down or buried in the ground, because it has no value.
But a car enthusiast looked at each of those pictures and said, “That is worth tens of thousands of dollars,” or in one case, millions of dollars. In its ruined state, it’s worth that much. And when God looks at you, it’s not that He’s not aware of the areas that still need work in your life, but those don’t define you to Him.
Because He sees your potential. More than that, He sees what you could be, what you should be, what He intended for you to be before sin and death and evil came into this world and into our lives.
This means that your failures are never final, because you are being restored. It means that your addictions, your problems, the parts of you that aren’t where you want them to be yet, the parts of you that you are ashamed of, God knows those parts, but He doesn’t reject you because of those parts. He’s in the process of restoring those parts.
Whether it’s an eating disorder or pornography or an addiction or a magnetic draw to alcohol – those things in your life where you just think, Man, that part of me is so ruined, there’s hope. There’s hope because there’s a capable Restorer and you sit in a room, a movement of people where hundreds of us, thousands now, have seen this restoration process. We have seen God take parts of us that seemed broken beyond repair and change our thought life, change our habits, repair our marriages, restore what was broken. There’s always hope if you stay in the repair shop.
But let’s just explore this idea that every human is a glorious ruin in need of restoration. Where does God’s Word say this? Well, it says that all people are glorious in Genesis 1, verse 27. Let’s look at that verse. And God says this, that He created human beings in His own image. So, this is what separates human from the animal world.
You know, all the other animals, they are beautiful, but they are not made in God’s image. So, they don’t have an eternal soul like you do. And they also don’t have a free will to accept or reject God like you do. Animals, you know, if you feed them enough, they will do what you say. If you feed them, you can train them.
And humans have this God-like ability, we can choose toward God or away from God. That’s called your free will. You are made in the image of God. That means you have an eternal soul. “In the image of God, He created them. Male and female He created them.”
Well, what about that word “ruined?” We are glorious but we are also ruined. Well, Jeremiah the prophet wrote about this in chapter 17 of his book. He says this, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
Now, this verse doesn’t mean that a human heart can never be good, but it means that all human hearts have moments when they are bad. And it means that our hearts are deceitful. In other words, your heart will deceive you. My heart deceives me. I have days where I think, Oh, I’m doing this for the right reason, but I’m not, because our hearts are deceptive.
One of the most deadly errors, I think, of my generation as a Millennial, and many of our kids being raised right now, is that we are often told and we heard this, we hear this saying, “Just follow your heart. Just do what your heart tells you.”
And to me, the tragic thing is every year the number of young people in the United States who take their own lives through suicide continues to grow and increase. You know why? Because our hearts, if we are depressed, if we are having a bad day, if we have been bullied, even if we just haven’t eaten enough or slept enough, your heart might tell you to do something evil like take your own life.
And here’s the thing, if your heart tells you to take your life, don’t listen to your heart. If your heart tells you to take the life of someone else, don’t listen to your heart. Our hearts are capable of great good, but our hearts are also capable of great evil. And history testifies to this. We see individuals and nations who followed their hearts into genocide and into war and into the enslaving of other people and into racism and into all sorts of evils. The human heart has the capacity for great good, but it also has the capacity for great evil.
So, what can we do if our own hearts can’t be trusted? Well, we can look to the One who has the power to restore our hearts and to change our hearts.