Updated: Jan 7
Of course He does.
His love was not exclusive to the ones who kept His commands perfectly, nor the ones who held themselves to a higher moral standard, nor the ones who lived a life free of immorality and sin.
King David was loved by God despite his adultery and murder, so was the woman at the well who was living in sin, the woman caught in adultery who was brought to the temple to be stoned, and despite all you've done wrong in your life - so are you.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16 ESV (Emphasis added)
The world - you and I included, in all its hatred, injustice, violence and bloodshed, was seen through the eyes of a loving father who saw it as redeemable.
The Apostle Paul was living proof of this redemption.
Paul was a man with an unparalleled hatred for the Christians of his time.
He was present when the first Christian Martyr was killed by an angry mob. (Acts 7:54 - 8:2)
Shortly afterwords, Paul himself led teams of militant zealots who began to search cities, door to door, dragging men and women alike into prison to be tried and executed for their beliefs in the living Christ.
It was while interrogating Christians that he found information of larger underground churches in Damascus preaching the gospel.
It was on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus to hunt down these Christians that the Lord met him.
A man who made it his life purpose to track down and kill Christians, a man whose hatred and anger drove hundreds of women and men alike to be executed publicly for their beliefs, a man who would be the absolute last candidate for mercy - was shown exactly that.
On some dirt road in the wilderness outside of Syrian Damascus, the Lord appeared to Paul.
Why? Because the Lord meets those who need him.
"On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 NIV
He came for those who needed redemption.
Not only did his heart break for every fatherless son, but his love extended to the father that left his family alone and deserted.
Not only did his love extend to the victim of abuse, while his righteous anger burned for what had happened to her; but his mercy extended to the man who had abused her, that he might turn from his ways, repent and find salvation.
Not only does his heart shatter to pieces for every young woman that finds herself in the dark world of prostitution, but his love and mercy extends to every man that hires her and abuses her.
Let me be so bold as to say that not only does his heart break for his very own church when it's massacred in some foreign land by extremists, but his love and mercy extends to the very man who holds the blood soaked blade in his hand.
A righteous anger burns in my heart for the innocent victims of such despicable and evil acts.
It is a desire to see justice served, to have the perpetrator punished in such a way and to such an extent that their suffering would somehow vindicate the victim of their own.
And so I wrestle with this concept of God's unconditional love. I wrestle with the idea of how a just God could also be a loving one.
Though I am not the first person who struggled to reconcile His justice and His love.
Perhaps it was this simple question that troubled those in the throne room of God, in a time of many eternities past.
You see, in the spiritual realm there is no question of the existence of God - his presence is very apparent.
The question is not "is God real?"
but, "is God good?"
So, is he?
In my yearning for answers as to what happened when a third of the Lord's angels rebelled against him, I am drawn to a conclusion.
Lucifer, the Lord's second in command would have approached the throne.
"If you are a just God," he might have said, "What are you to do about the evil men in the world you created? Should they not be delivered justice? Are the wages of sin not death? They have chosen their course, will you not punish them for their ways?"
I imagine the Lord looked down in that moment on his creation and saw every sinner, every thief, every rapist and every murderer that walked the earth. I imagine the burden of every sinful act ever committed rested like a weight upon his shoulders.
"Their every thought is rebellious, their every action is evil." Lucifer might have said. "The only true justice for them is death, eternal separation from God. If you are a good God, you will say their case is a hopeless one. If you are a just God, you will say their cause is lost."
And the Lord after a few moments would have responded,
"Redeemable. I will redeem them."
And so a divide opened up in the heavenly realm. Those who demanded the swift destruction of mankind, and those who believed the Lord could restore his creation.
Those who wanted mankind eternally separated from God and those who believed that God could redeem them.
Now, God is a just God.
The crimes of every man would have to be delivered justice.
The price of every evil thought, every evil action, paid for in full.
And so I am drawn to the image of Jesus on the cross.
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;" Isaiah 53:5a (NIV)
Enduring one of the most painful deaths a human being can be subjected to, he was beaten, whipped, and tortured mercilessly by those children of his that he came to save.
The king of Glory was ridiculed, he was insulted, humiliated and shamed by the very children he had spoken into existence and had given life with a breath of his own.
The King of Kings had a crown of thorns placed upon his head.
He was nailed to a cross made from a tree that on the third day of creation he spoke into existence.
Jesus, hanging on the cross in such immense pain, spoke out to those who had beat him, spat on him and gambled for his clothing,
"And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments." Luke 23:34 ESV
In that moment, 2,000 years ago on a plot of land outside Jerusalem called Golgotha - the sins of the world were placed on the blameless and perfect being of Jesus the Saviour.
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Luke 23:46 ESV
He died on that blood soaked cross and took the sins of the world with him.
The price of every evil thought, every evil action, paid for in full.
One the third day he was raised from the dead and later he ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father.
The redemption of mankind completed by the only man who ever could save us.
Any of the sinners who now, called out by the Lord to turn from their ways, need only to understand that to die to sin and become alive to Christ and accept his payment for your life, is as Paul said in Romans,
"that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9 NKJV
To say that God does not love every father who left his family, is to discredit the lengths to which Jesus went to save him.
To say that God could not redeem every woman in prostitution and every man who abuses and exploits her, every rapist that steals from someone their most sacred thing or every murderer that takes someones life is to depreciate the value of Jesus blood that he shed on the cross.
To love someone does not mean that they are free from consequences of their actions.
The Lord has given man the authority to act as an arbiter for justice, that such murderers and rapists should be given their punishment in full.
I do believe that some men must rot away in prison for the rest of their lives. But I also believe that Jesus came so that some would be saved from rotting away in hell, separated from God for the rest of eternity.
The purpose of this message is not to say that there is no consequence for action, but to say that if we don't preach the Gospel of the living Christ, these people will never know the beautiful price that Jesus paid for them.
And if they never know, they can't accept the gift. They can't turn from their ways and repent.
They wont be able to give their lives to the living God so that he might as David said in Psalm 51:10 (KJV) "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
Paul is the foremost expert on this concept of redemption.
He was called out of his life of religious persecution and into a new one of spreading the Gospel he had previously sought to destroy.
His life was so full and evident of Christ that Paul would go on to become one of the most influential Christian leaders of all time.
This man, enabled by the deep-state religious officials of his time to be one of the most effective terrorists against Christianity, became the man who Christ enabled to spread the Gospel more than any of the other twelve disciples.
I say this because Christ did not stop Paul before he entered his career of terrorism.
Paul had already been directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Christians when Christ changed his life.
Yet this extremist was loved by God so deeply, so passionately and unconditionally that he appeared to him and changed his life.
All the arguments in the world will not change a persons own rationale.
Logical debates won't change someones mind, or how they rationalize their own sinful ways.
But love will.
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)
We should love them unconditionally, that they might see Christ in us and turn to him.
As pastor Paul Washer said:
"All of your reformed theology and good doctrine will be annulled if you do not out-love those who oppose you."
As Jesus himself said,
"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Luke 6:27b, 28 (NIV)
We are in a window of time where the harvest is plenty but the workers are few.
There are billions of people who desperately seek the face of God but have been fed lies and hatred their entire lives. Now is the time to reach them.
The mission field is no longer across the ocean, it is right here and it is right now.
God stopped Paul on the road of persecution because he loved him.
He turned a radical extremist opposed to God and his people into one of the most influential men in history.
He took a broken, hate filled man - and covered him with his love.
Because Jesus loves terrorists.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jozef Lalka is a former Infantryman with the Canadian Armed Forces and founder of War Doll.
Since releasing from the military, Jozef has devoted his life to the scriptural motivation of the warrior culture, and the mentorship of the next generation. Having earned a diploma in Media & Video production, Jozef works as a graphic designer, photographer and videographer while pursing a passion for current global conflicts and how they relate to historical events.