I hate to imagine how God felt when He made the decision to flood the earth. How sad He must have felt to destroy what he had meant for good. To come to a place in time where the only conceivable solution was to wipe out all of His creations, all of existence except for His chosen, had to be so incredibly heartbreaking.
“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on Earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on Earth and his heart was filled with pain.” Genesis 6 5:6
Yet, the presence of a loving God forgave man and established a covenant to never flood the Earth again.
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8 22
He then set a rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant. The God of mercy and grace and king of all life on earth provides peace and comfort, hope and joy even when there is chaos, fear and anxiousness. Noah, the righteous and chosen man, had to have been very afraid. But the story of man’s salvation dates back to the beginning of time and God’s promise was to save the righteous. Noah followed the Lord’s instructions, and his family inherited the land and the seas.
“Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you green plants, I now give you everything.” Genesis 9:3
I enjoy this story in the Bible so very much. Each time I see a rainbow I am reminded of the promise God made and it gives me hope. A promise to be kind and forgiving.
So why then is it so easy for evil to flourish in the hearts of man? You would have thought we learned our lesson. But us humans are a sinful and rebellious lot aren’t we? We live in a corrupt world. Our televisions and social media greet us with injustice virtually every day and every moment. The world fell when evil slithered into God’s Garden. And the world currently remains fallen. The magnitude of suffering and hardship throughout history is hard to imagine at times.
Since I was a child, I can recall the assassination of Kennedy, Vietnam War, the Oklahoma bombing, Waco, Desert Storm, the 911 attacks, ISIS, as well as cultural and moral turmoil. The sad truth about these atrocities is that they are all at the hands of people. People that God created. But “why”?.
“Jesus said, Thou shall love the Lord the God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thyself. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. There is NO greater commandment than these.” Mark 12:31
So, my question remains; “Do we not understand what it means to love like Jesus?”
Like the Apostle Paul taught, I believe part of the answer is in our misinterpretation of the words “to love”. The dictionary definition of love used as a noun: “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Used as a verb it is defined “to feel a deep romantic attachment to someone.” I struggle with the definition as it pertains to the verse in Mark. I am quite certain God isn’t looking for his people to have romantic feelings towards every one of our neighbors! I would also be alright saying that we don’t need to have intense feelings of affection for them either. God meant “to love” as a word of intentional action, of deed and of doing. Love according to Jesus is not a feeling. It is an action. God made love for sharing.
Throughout the Bible Jesus teaches us exactly how to love our neighbors! He gave us very clear instructions on “loving.”
1 Corinthians 13:4 says “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
The Bible also has many stories and parables teaching us by specific acts of love. Again, loving is a verb, a word of action in the Bible. It is rarely used as a “feeling”. The type of love that is described in the Bible is “agape” love. Agape is the greek word for love at its ultimate and is the most self sacrificing love.
In John 3:16 it is written that “God so loved (agapao) the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
The word “agape love” has little to do with emotion. It is a love that reaches out to those who do not deserve it, a love that forgives people, a love that can start over without a grudge, a love that sacrifices for others and a love that means caring.
Love can be a difficult word to define. But we recognize love by its actions. Even when God flooded the earth it was an act of love. The world filled with wicked people. And the level of sin and corruption was deplorable. God simply could not allow this to continue. Creating man in the image of God was not a mistake that he came to regret. God grieved in His most holy heart.
He responded to man’s sin in a holy and righteous way but in a way that would also save mankind. All humans perished except the eight people who God found righteous in his eyes. Noah and his family became our ancestors. As a reminder that he will always be with us and an intentional act of love that saved mankind, God gave us the covenant of the rainbow .
God created us to experience His love and to return it to others and to enjoy a personal relationship with him. God so wants for each of us to seek a relationship with him! And, because of this, God gave us the freedom to accept that love and respond to it or to reject it.
In the Bible Adam and Eve rejected God’s leadership and made a purposeful decision to not obey his authority. Through them the world separated from God’s design. Each of us use our free will to either honor God in our daily lives or rebel. The choices we make don’t come without a consequence. Sin and evil became the consequence of “the fall.” And eventually they caused the Earth to flood.
For those of us that struggle with the question of why a merciful and loving God would allow bad things to happen; here is your answer. It is not the world that he designed for us. God is not the creator of sin and suffering and bad things. We are! Paradise disappeared due to our moral shortcomings. And as a result, we live in a fallen world.
God sent His son. And this is the great new!, Although this is not the best possible world. God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for us. Because of God’s great love and sacrifice we now reconcile with Him through Christ.
The Apostle Paul wrote,
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:18
Love with intention and seek a purposeful relationship with God.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loved another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:8-10
Love does live here and grace is a powerful force. May we all put love into action. May your prayers be today and each day that evil does not nor ever prevail. In these wicked times God’s believers must be strong and steadfast, purposeful and intentional and love our neighbors. Amen.