John 3:16-17 - For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
For what would you be ready to die?
In January of 1978, Florida newspapers carried the story of James Michael Harper of Tampa. Harper was playing with his puppy on a train trestle over the Hillsborough River. The puppy got loose, and Harper saw a train coming. He was determined to save his dog. He did. The dog was saved, but the train ran over Harper.
No, Harper didn't die but he lost both legs -- for a puppy. What kind of love would motivate a boy to run such a risk of dying so a puppy might live? Would you do it? Be honest.
Some would, but not many. If you had been there, you would have tried to hold Harper back. Most people believe that no dog, no matter how well trained, no matter how pure his bloodlines, is worth the legs or life of a boy. But Harper didn't see it that way. For him there was no "but" or "maybe" or "thinking it through." With a ruthless love, he was ready to die for his dog.
Ruthless love is single-minded in its purpose and cannot be diverted from its direction.
Would you like to know more about ruthless love? Listen to the words Paul wrote to the church in Rome: "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: 'While we were still sinners, Christ died for us'" (Romans 5:8). That's ruthless love.
After the first six days of creation, our perfect God did a survey and said everything He had made was, well, perfect. The trees were perfect. The fish were perfect. The birds were perfect. The people were perfect. There were no tears, sadness, loneliness, depression, or death. There were no oil spills, terrorists, child pornographers, drug dealers, floods, or flat tires. All was as it was supposed to be. God's verdict: It was all very, "very good" (see Genesis 1:31).
You might say, "Hold on! The world isn't that way today."
That's because our first ancestors goofed. They sinned. God told them, "You can do pretty much anything you want, but don't do this one thing." Not surprisingly, they did the one thing they weren't supposed to. Things changed for the worse.
Things no longer were very good. By the disobedience of our first ancestors, sin entered into the world, and death became as much a part of our inheritance as the strands of DNA in our cells. Every bit of injustice and inequity, every bit of hatred and prejudice, pain and suffering, hurt and horror, you have ever experienced began when humankind rejected God.
Sin had piled a plethora of penalties upon us. But imagine what sin did to God. He gave us perfection; we opted for pain. He extended a divine hand of Fatherhood, and we slapped it away, spit in His face, turned our backs, and walked away.
No one could blame Him if He had done the same to us. But He didn't because God loves His children with a ruthless kind of love. God didn't allow our disobedient nature to determine what He was going to do. That's why God showed His ruthless love for us in that while we were sinners, He sent His Son to save us, to be the sinners' substitute, to die for those who hated Him.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may we who have been redeemed by Your ruthless love show our thanks in the way we live our lives to His glory. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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