Summary: God's love is universal. He gives grace and mercy to any and all people who will receive... not just to His supposed favorites.
Passages for Study:
Have your Bible handy because you will benefit by taking a deep look at these passages.
I want you to take a few minutes and meditate on this... God’s love is universal.
What does that mean?
What does that mean to you?
How do you absorb the reality that God's love IS universal?
Usually when something is universal, it means that it can be applied to many things. It’s not specific to just one thing.
- including or covering all or a whole collectively or distributively without limit or exception
- present or occurring everywhere
- embracing a major part or the greatest portion
The heart of the gospel is love. Not just love, but unconditional love and acceptance.
We are so quick to get into cliques or groups that we relate to those who accept us. We have a natural tendency and desire to feel like we belong.
Think back to when you were in school. Each school has its distinct groups such as band members, athletes, cheerleaders, nerds, skaters, druggies, partiers, and so on.
Each group has its own language and its own understanding of what is and what is not cool. These groups hang together and usually exclude those who do not conform to their way.
Unfortunately, the church is no different. We are quick to exclude people who look different and/or believe differently from us.
I want us to understand that God’s love is universal. We are to represent Christ in this world. We need to be the people that point out God’s love and longing for all humanity.
Aren’t you glad that God’s love is universal?
There are two sides to that coin.
- It’s good for us that God’s love is universal because that means that we are to love and accept others who may seem or appear to be different from us. He modeled it so we replicate it.
- It’s also good for us that God’s love is universal because we can find acceptance and belonging in His kingdom. We matter to Him. He does not exclude us from His love.
We have such a tendency to accept the universal message of God’s love, but a hesitation to live it out as if it is true.
This passage follows the passage from last week when Jesus read in the synagogue from Isaiah. Remember Jesus’ mission statement? He came to preach good news of freedom to the poor, broken, and oppressed.
Everyone in Nazareth probably loved this passage with its promise of freedom and God’s vengeance upon their enemies. However, Jesus leaves off the last half. There is no mention of God’s vengeance and judgment.
Jesus seems to be saying, “You think God loves you and hates the Romans and everyone else. You think God is coming to save you and destroy everyone who is different, but you’re wrong. God loves them and is attempting to save them too.”
Jesus furthers His point by talking about the widow and Naaman. Both were considered outsiders; outsiders at a time when Israel was not spiritually right and rejected God’s messengers. Just like ancient Israel, His audience was in danger of neglecting His message; a message for both Jew and Gentile.
In Nazareth, the people were unwilling to accept that God’s grace extends to people they thought were beyond reach. This made them unable to celebrate God’s acceptance themselves or the presence of a prophet in their midst. This fits into an overall theme of Luke, that is, everyone matters in the kingdom of God.
If you have a closed heart, then you will probably find yourself unable to celebrate God's acceptance. Think on that for a minute.
God is still looking for people who will answer His call and take His word to the people; even to those people who are different from themselves and may be hostile to His message.
Do you remember the call of Jeremiah?
This passage of Scripture is often quoted to show the value of life. God knew you even before you were born and has a plan for your life. Jeremiah was young, but God still wanted to use him to reach the nations.
“Nations” refers not only to Judah, but to all the nations, including Gentile nations. This is a key element that is often overlooked, but is important for us to understand.
Of course, Jeremiah brings up excuses, claiming he is too young and can’t speak well. God promises to speak through Jeremiah, and reminds him to not be afraid. God declares faithfully, “I am with you.” God helps Jeremiah to be a prophet who condemns sin, calls for repentance, and reminds the people of individual responsibility.
Jeremiah is surrounded by wicked leaders and countrymen, but remains faithful as God leads him through this stormy time in Israel’s history.
God called Jeremiah to take His word to the people. These were people who were hostile to the message of the prophet. Yet, God called him to be faithful, go among them, and speak the words He gave him.
Today, God is still looking for people who will answer His call and take His word to the people; even to those people who are different from themselves and may be hostile to His message. There is nothing to fear. Just as God was with Jeremiah, He promises to be with us too!
God’s words apply to all humans; even those who reject Him. God knows each person before they are born. He has a plan for them, yet loves them enough to give them the free choice to accept or reject Him.
Regardless of their choice, He still loves them. Our role is to love them as He does.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 Paul says that without love, we are just like a loud noise, static on the radio, and just another social club. Love is what will reach the world.
God’s grace, favor, acceptance, and love is for all humanity.
Have you ever neglected a certain person or group of people?
Are you willing to accept Jesus’ powerful message of love for all humanity?
You may believe it, but are you ready to live it?
We need to live out God’s grace and understand that God’s love is universal and meant for all people... not just those who are like us.
Be in the process of becoming... like Jesus.
May you grow in Christ and become a closer follower of Him this week!