“There can’t possibly be a loving God. He never would have allowed ___________ to happen!” (Fill in the blank with whatever has broken the speaker’s heart.)
I was thinking the other day that the Lord certainly would have made it easier for unbelievers to embrace Him if He’d arranged things according to the teachings of the Prosperity Gospel crowd--the Name It and Claim It proponents who say that God rewards true and generous believers with problem-free and prosperous lives, while plaguing the unbelieving, the disobedient, and the stingy-towards-His-anointed with nothing but trouble.
Wouldn’t God see explosive and exponential growth in His kingdom if He simply erased the problems of everyone who believed in His Son? Talk about a quick fix for the world’s ailing churches!
The trouble is, such a scheme would only succeed in filling those churches with cupboard love—the sort of love that is given only in response to, or in anticipation of, favors bestowed.
And cupboard love is about as far as you can get from what God wants from us. When Jesus said, as quoted in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all our mind,” He used a form of the Greek word “agape,” which is God’s love–nothing less than fully benevolent, astoundingly sacrificial, characterized by pure delight in the object of love.
Ironically, the creature who is most often accused of cupboard love is the dog. And yet he is probably the best example of agape love on this earth. He loves his master unconditionally, faithfully, endlessly, even unrequitedly if necessary. Talk about worship!
The best examples of cupboard love? Sadly, it would have to be us humans. And sadder still, it would have to include any Christians who have ever expected earthly rewards for their obedience or good deeds, or who have ever questioned God’s wisdom in allowing misfortune to darken their doorways.
I’ve certainly been guilty of exhibiting cupboard love before God. But enough is enough. From now on, I’m going to obey James 1's admonition to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials," and make my role model the lowly dog--the epitome of agape love.