Colossians 1: 21-22
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him…”
“God would never force His love upon someone…” This argument has a strong pathos over our psyche. We think of irresistible love at the very least controlling and at the very worst abusive. We argue that God must wait on us to love Him otherwise He is imposing His will over us and we become nothing but puppets, robots, or some other artificially animated metaphor. Put another way, God is constantly singing to us the words of Cheap Trick, “I want you to want me.”
The confusion over this foundational paradigm is, like most confusion, rooted in truth. The argument that God desires us to desire Him is actually quite true. God is pleased with us when we love Him and the things He loves.
Where the argument breaks down is when it is conjectured that our relationship with Him in not genuine if we don’t first love Him or rather that we don’t respond to His pursuit in love. The problem is that we have missed the metaphor of how it is that God pursues us. We think of God’s pursuit of us as a husband pursuing his wife. Both parties full of hopes and dreams, expectations and desires, and most of all a loving suitor courting an elegant and gracious bride to be who carefully considers His proposal and then says yes and chooses Him.
We think far to highly of ourselves.
God’s pursuit of us is really the pursuit of a parent for their child. We think of ourselves as the careful and discerning bride when we should really think of ourselves as the spoiled toddler, kicking and screaming on the floor because he wants his carnal toy back. We can then more accurately realize that it is God, our loving Father, who gently (but against our will) picks us up and loves us in spite of our ugly selfishness. This efficacious love has the very happy result of turning us from spoiled brats into a beautiful bride. If we adopt the mindset, that we love God because He first loved us. Then we can forget about worrying that God is “forcing Himself” on to us.
Think of it this way, if the book of Colossians is true (which it is), then when we see ourselves being described as this, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds…,” why would we want God to “wait on us” to love Him first? If our mind is fundamentally evil, hostile, and alienated from and toward God, that it would follow that we won’t ever love Him on our own accord, we simply couldn’t. If we are slaves to sin and death we will do what our master (the devil) tells us to, hate God.
Since we know that we were once “dead in our trespasses…” God has given us new life and thankfully, He didn’t wait around to see if our corpse “wanted Him or not.” He knew, without a doubt, that we were incapable of desiring Him.
Therefore, embrace who you really were, a spoiled toddler who God choose to love anyway and in such an efficacious way that there isn’t a blessed thing you can do about it. Embrace what God is turning you into. God has redeemed you and is sanctifying you (as a part of His whole church) into a beautiful bride for His Son. We weren’t redeemed because we choose Him, because we were valuable, or because we were lovely, we were redeemed because God is kind and loves us.
This truly is the good news, we love because He first loved us.