Theologically troubling Facebook statuses

What do you make of this Facebook status? (Click to expand.) It was posted by an acquaintance who’s in ministry.

Do we believe that God loves us “in spite of” who we are? I can’t relate to this. I get his point: We’re sinners, and God forgives us through the atoning work of Christ, by all means. But Jesus teaches us that God is like a loving Father. (See this parable, for example.) Even more, we know from this verse that Jesus, who primarily spoke Aramaic, used the Aramaic word “Abba” when praying to his Father. Abba is a very informal word for father, better translated “Daddy” or “Papa.” (Notice it even sounds like papa.)

That being the case, how can we imagine that God our Father loves us in spite of who we are? Is that how we human parents love our children? Is God our heavenly Father less loving than we human parents?

No way! I’m a father of three who loves his children mostly for who they are! I can’t help it. They’re mostly wonderful. They’re pretty close to perfect for me—even though each has a unique personality, different from one another’s and different from mine. I’m not saying they are perfect or that they don’t drive me crazy sometimes, but I’m hopelessly proud of them and madly in love with them.

How can I not love them for who they are?

Over summer vacation this year, my precocious 10-year-old daughter overheard my only half-serious complaint about how much more difficult vacations are with kids than they used to be. She said, “Dad, don’t you sometimes wish you never had kids?” I looked her in the eyes and said, in a sharp tone, “What are you talking about? You children are the greatest thing that ever happened to me!” And that’s exactly how I feel. No joking around about that for even a moment.

How can God not love us for who we are? He created us this way—each as a unique and precious creation. That we are sinners doesn’t change that, does it?

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