[The following post is based on a sermon series presented in January-February 2006 while I served as pastor at Exeter Area Christian Fellowship in Newfields, NH.]
Say Anything is a love story of two teenagers on opposite ends of the social spectrum. Lloyd Dobler is your classic nice guy. Everyone likes Lloyd. He is one of those rare people who mixes with people from many different groups. Diane Court is brilliant, beautiful and, it appears, unreachable. Happily Lloyd finally succeeds in winning Diane’s heart. Things get ugly when Diane’s father Jim, is convicted of embezzlement and the once tight-knit relationship between father and daughter is broken. Visiting Jim in prison Lloyd gives him a letter from Diane, As Jim brokenheartedly reads of his daughter’s shame and embarrassment, Lloyd says, “It gets better; it gets better if it’s the version that ends with ‘I still can’t help loving you.’” Sadly it isn’t. Lloyd says, “Just knowing that a version like that exists, that for a moment she wrote ‘I still can’t help loving you’, just knowing a letter like that exists…that has to count for something.”
Human love is fragile. Even at its very best, human love can endure only so much pain and hardship before it reaches a breaking point. Love is demanding, hard to maintain and likely to bring hurt and pain. We long for a love that endures; a love that goes through thick and thin, bearing even the most extreme pain. We long for a letter that ends, ‘no matter what happens, I still can’t help loving you.’
We have just such a letter. The Bible is God’s ultimate love letter, telling how much He loves us, and all we have tried to do to throw that love away. It is the record of what God has done to maintain that love relationship; and stamped from cover to cover are the words, ‘I can’t help loving you.’
No matter what happens, no matter what we do to run from Him God cannot help loving us.
The Bible tells us that God is love (see 1 John 4:8). Philip Yancey writes that God cannot help loving us because love defines His nature. (Reaching For the Invisible God) Love is an absolute essential quality of the character of God. It is the “glue” that holds God together. His mercy, justice, righteousness, wrath, and every other quality flows out of His love.
There is no specific verse that says, ‘God cannot help loving us’, but we realize this is true when we consider the way God treats His creation in general…
“You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.” (Psalms 65:9-11 NIV see also Acts 14:17; Psalm 104:27-28; 145:9, 15-16)
…and His people in particular.
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV see also Isaiah 43:4; 54:10
It is in His relationship with His people that His radical love shows through. Many of God’s promises to Israel, mentioned just above, can be drawn out to include His people throughout the ages. His people can be sure that God’s love will never falter or fail.
Friends, God is crazy about us! He cannot help loving us!
However, it is one thing to say you love someone; another thing entirely to show it. Christ is the great example of how much God cannot help loving us. He didn’t just say it…He did something about it. He is so passionate about us that He sought us out when we were running from Him; He came after us.
“For thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out...I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick.’” (Ezekiel 34:11, 16 NASU)
In the person of Jesus, God took on human flesh and, as the Scripture says, “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1 NASU) The word for ‘end’ is the Greek word telos which means ‘fullness’ and ‘completion’. Jesus gave, and continues to give, every ounce of love He has because God cannot help loving us.
In a tavern, Ivan and Peter sat together, the warm happiness of too many drinks upon their faces. Arms around one another, they were protesting how much each loved the other. Suddenly Ivan said to his friend, “Peter, tell me, what hurts me?” Stunned, Peter sat back into his chair and blurted out, “How do I know what hurts you?” Ivan's response cut through the drunken stupor: “If you don't know what hurts me, how can you say that you love me?”
Because God cannot help loving us He knows all about us; our joys, our sorrows, our fears, our pains…and through it all, He keeps loving us.
Where have you been in your life? Maybe you’ve been down roads that you wish you had never traveled? Maybe you’ve done things that you are ashamed of…that you know God disapproved of. Maybe you’ve thought, “There is no way God could ever love me.”
God is crazy about you! He cannot help Himself.
One of the hardest things to do, even for believers to do, is to just accept God’s passionate love. Sure, we fail, but that doesn’t take God by surprise. It’s not as if He watches us fall and says, “Well maybe they don’t deserve My love after all.” No kidding we don’t deserve His love! That’s the point! He loves us anyway. He can’t help it!
Take heart! Delight in His love; relish it and return it with as much passion as you can muster. God Cannot Help Loving Us. Thank God!