Wayne Jacobsen, author of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore has written a few other books. I recently had the opportunity to read his, He Loves Me. Both of these books are available as a free PDF download from his website, Life Stream (or the links above go directly to the books). I would also encourage you to check out his blog.
He Loves Me is all about God’s love. Jacobsen’s uses the example of the old childhood game, “He Loves Me” as an illustration of the game we play with God. When things are going bad in our lives, we think we need to be better so God will love us again and start blessing us. When things are going good in our lives, we feel like God loves us and we are fine. Jacobsen shows that the He Loves Me theology is not an accurate description of both our lives and God’s love. I highly encourage you to pick up this book. Even if you think you understand everything about God’s love, I think this book will come as a surprise to you… a pleasant surprise. He is releasing the second edition of this book on September 1st, so you may want to wait before reading it. But if you decide not to, I read the first edition and look forward to reading the additions in the second.
Here are a few select excerpt from this great book.
How I wanted to interrupt my conversation and join theirs. I used to think that too. All that matters to God is our obedience. Weren’t we all taught that?
I’ve since come to discover it isn’t so. Certainly God wants us to be obedient to him, and Adam and Eve would have saved us all a host of grief if they had obeyed him. But God knew their disobedience was only a symptom of something he cared about far more.
Since he created us so that we could share in the relationship that Father, Son and Spirit have shared for all eternity, then we have to engage it the same way they do. Their unity flows from the fact that they absolutely love and trust each other. You can see it in the way they talk to each other and how they act together. It only makes sense that God’s invitation for us to share in that relationship must be based on that same trust.
One can obey God, and yet not trust him, and in doing so miss out on a relationship with him. One cannot, however, trust God and be disobedient to him. For we shall see that all disobedience flows out of mistrust in God’s nature and of his intentions toward us.
Thus the experience in the Garden wasn’t to demand their obedience but to incubate their trust. He knew that the first step might well be a step away from him in disobedience. He knew the lesson would be painful and costly—for him most of all—but he chose it because he desired people who would relate to him in love, not obey him in fear. It would have been far easier to accomplish the latter, but God knew that love could only flourish where trust does; and that real trust could only emerge where people were free to reject it.
– Pg. 95-96
“Of course we are saved by grace, but that doesn’t mean we can just sit around and do nothing. God is a loving Father, but don’t take advantage of that because he is also a severe judge. We are not saved by our works, but we still need to live a life that pleases him.” The latter usually consists of some mix of Bible reading, prayer, church attendance and righteous deeds.
By embracing this “but” theology we end up right where we began, with a performance-based relationship to God. We have to live every day concerned about whether we have done enough to be a good Christian and judge others around us with the same standards. It not only takes all the joy out of knowing God, but also all the encouragement out of our relationships with others.
Whenever we add anything to God’s work on the cross, the message is distorted and we rob it of its power. Paul made it clear that the cross alone had totally transformed him. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
– Pg. 150-151
But God has taught me over and over again in this journey that he knows best about everything. The way I would solve my problems and help other people would do more damage to us all than he would allow. When he denied me the thing that I wanted it was because he had a better way not only to deal with my circumstance but change me in the process. In almost every situation it seems that what God is doing is the opposite of what I would do.
When he wanted to teach me to trust him more, I prayed he would fix things so I wouldn’t have to.
When he wanted to lead me into the fullest participation of what he made me to be, I prayed he would just make me happy.
When he wanted to change my character so I would represent his heart to others, I wanted him to leave me the way I was and not allow me to be caught in situations where the “old Wayne” would surface.
I’m so glad he won, more often in spite of my prayers than because of them. I want him to continue, I really do. I want him to use everything in my life to shape me to be more like him so that he can fulfill in me the purpose for which he made me.
– Pg. 183