Thursday, May 13, 2010

Theology: Does God Care More About Christians Than Non-Christians?

Does God care more about Christians than non-Christians? This is an excellent question worthy of our attention for many reasons. It is also a bit of a dangerous one. What I mean is that the way we answer it will have a direct impact on how we treat people. That is to say, what we believe about who God loves and doesn’t love will inevitably have an effect on how we think about people and how we treat people. So, what’s the answer to this challenging question? This is something many people struggle with for years, so a clear and simple answer simply can’t be given in one brief reflection on the subject. That being said, I do believe we can come to see some very important truths about ourselves and about God by looking at three truths from God’s Word.

First, the truth that God gives “Common Grace” to all people. “What is common grace” you ask? Common grace is the term we use to describe how kind, loving, patient, and generous God is towards all people. This is a vital truth for us to see. God is gracious to everyone. How so? Well, if we believe the Bible’s testimony that all men are absolutely incapable of rescuing themselves from sin, and are far worse than we ever dare admit, we might come to see how great God’s common grace is. If you and I were to receive “fair” treatment from God, that is to say if you and I were to receive the fair punishment for our treasonous, rebellious sin against the King of the universe (and that is what every sin is), we would have been killed immediately and given an eternal punishment. That is how serious sin is, and that is the “fair” treatment of sin. However, while God does decree that the consequence (or wage, from Romans 3) of sin is death, he does not give this sentence to us immediately. That means that everything that we see as good in the world – sleeping, eating, joy, laughter, the beauty of nature, the satisfaction in a game or recreation, and so on – is God’s common grace to all mankind. So, we see here already that God does love all people are does “care” for all people.

Second, we have to remember that the Gospel tells us that God went an infinite distance in rescuing us from our sin. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ claims that God came to us, instead of us needing to do all kinds of things to get approved by God. God covered the infinite gap between Heaven and earth because of his great love for us, and paid the price himself for our sin against him. He died in our place so we could become “children of God” (I John 3:1). But, here’s an important question: what exactly IS a Christian? The question at hand is about whether God cares more about Christians… so, what or who is a Christian? A Christian is someone who was once deserving of eternal punishment for rejecting God, yet God came for them, died for them, and rose for them and gives them eternal life. A Christian is someone who, when God looks at them, God sees Jesus and his perfection rather than their sin. So, if you’re a Christian, you’re not one because God thought you were so special, or because you went to church or came from a certain family – none of that either qualifies you or disqualifies you – you’re a Christian because God has loved you and you responded in faith to receive his free gift of grace.

Lastly, God calls all Christians to love others in the same manner in which God loved us in Christ. Philippians 2:1-11 describes Christ letting go of all his Heavenly rights in order to humble himself in his humanity all the way to death on a cross. We are implored by God to see Christ’s sacrifice and example and be so changed because God is living in us that we in turn love others sacrificially, genuinely, and humbly.

So, does God care for the Christian more than the non-Christian? In many ways, the answer is no. None of us deserves God’s love yet he pours out his love on all mankind every day. None of us has sought after God on our own – rather, God has loved us so deeply that he seeks after us and rescues us from our sin and rebellion against him. Christians do have a special, unique relationship with God because of their faith in Christ. There are important differences in the way God responds to his child and the way God responds to someone who is still in their sin without hope. God knows us as a perfect Heavenly Father knows his children. But these things are not meant to boost our ego or make us think we matter more, therefore treating others with contempt. Let us follow in the example of our Savior, filled with His Spirit to love people the way God has loved us.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure what this means about God's love for Christians as opposed to others, but how does the Doctrine of Election play into this? You referenced Romans 3; well, Romans 8:29-30 says that we were foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorifed by the grace of God. John 17 says that His disciples were given to Him by the Father (17:6), but not just the disciples who were with Him during His life; even those disciples to come are given Him by the Father (17:20).

    While I agree that there is a common grace, that God loves His creation, and that He does not will that any perish, there is also the reality that God has, for reasons known only to Himself, elected some of us to bring Him glory, by allowing us to come to the knowledge of His saving grace. I don't know whether this implies that God loves us differently, but there is no doubt that He allows some of us but not all of us to come to Him.


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