I know a man whose wife has left him. She has not only left him, but has already chosen the bed of a different man.
He said to me, “I must be some sort of sucker, because I still want to tell her that if she would stop sleeping with this other guy, I would still take her back.”
What I don’t think the spurned husband realizes is that he is hardly a sucker. This is the sort of love that God shows to us. Hosea is one of the most grace-filled books in the Old Testament for precisely this reason. The faithful man marries an unfaithful woman, who is already unworthy of marriage in the first place. She leaves him, not because of his fault, but because of her own sinfulness.
What does Hosea do? He brings her and their children back, loves them, and restores them to their place.
Hosea’s whole life, then, is an example of God’s love. We are the unfaithful and unworthy woman in the story. We do not deserve to be loved, much less to be taken in and bound to God’s heart for life, but he does that to undeserving sinners like us.
What happens, then, when he takes us in? We remain unfaithful. We fail to do the good that we know he loves. We do the evil that we don’t want to do, and more evil that we do want to do. We don’t love God with all our heart, though he surely deserves it. We don’t love our neighbors as ourselves, though He surely commands it. We Christians are doubly guilty because we have God’s Word as a curb, mirror, and guide. We have the Holy Spirit to help us, Jesus to lead us, and the assurance of eternal life to strengthen us in our battle against sin.
What do we do with it?
We fail. We try and do not succeed. We do not try. Sometimes we roll around in our sinfulness like a pig in slop.
But God is there, not blind or stupid to the fact that we’re covered in pig slop. In spiritual terms, and often literally in the sexually-twisted USA, we have slept around on the most faithful, giving, and kind husband we could ever know.
And he see it. He is not blind to ignore it or unjust to excuse it when we are wrong. We deserve death and hell, from the preachy-preacher in a mega-church to the scumbag in solitary confinement, Nowheresville Pennitentiary, USA. We are equally unfaithful and undeserving of his love.
But he loves despite that knowledge. He holds out his arms though we are filthy. Why? How? Because someone was faithful in our place. Someone was worthy when we were unworthy. When we earned death, he died instead of us.
His name was Jesus. He loves you that much. This winter, as every winter, the Christian church pauses to think about the beginning of his heavenly invasion of our nasty little sin-wrecked lives. It started in a little town in the Middle East called Bethlehem (house of bread).
Don’t take my word for it. Find a local church and ask your pastor this Christmas. I’m pretty sure he’ll be glad to tell you the rest.
For unfaithful, whoring, unworthy brides like my soul, it is the best and most gracious of news.