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You're Only Human Study Guide 2: Does God Love Me Despite My Limits?

Community Group Study Guide — Does God Love Me Despite My Limits?
Romans 5:6-11

Study Information:
In our last study guide we looked at God’s infinitude and contrasted that to how we were created with limits and boundaries as human beings. God being infinite means that he is the only being to not be limited or experience boundaries his attributes meaning he is not limited in terms of strength, knowledge, being, time, etc. This means that God is not just great in his knowledge, he is infinite in his knowledge. The same goes with his power, presence, and every other attribute he possesses. This is obviously not the case with us, we’re limited in knowledge, power, time and our capacity to love and be holy and good. 

God has created each of us as particular people. We were all born in a certain place and time with a particular family background, personality, experiences and attributes. Psalm 139 tells us that God has thoroughly searched us and even that the days we live out were formed for us (Psalm 139:1, 16). Who you are is not an accident. Yet, many of us are uncomfortable with who we are. We each have sins that are hard to shake, physical limits, diminished emotional capacities, experiences in our past we wish to forget and we get tired of being limited in the ways we are. Some of us are over confident, maybe even a bit narcissistic, but that is not the majority of us. The majority of us can get frustrated at our weaknesses and how much we “fail.” 

What is God’s attitude towards our human limits? Does God simply tolerate us? Does God love us despite our limits? No, God knows the real you, even with all your weaknesses and sin, and God has move to make reconciliation possible through his son Jesus.   

Does God Love Me in Particular?
Romans 5:6-8
Have you applied the gospel to yourself personally? You may be familiar with a verse like John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Many of us can affirm the truth of that verse but do you think of Jesus’ use of the word “world” in a generic sense? Do you think you’re part of the group that God loves? Do you ever substitute the word “me” in that verse for the word “world?” This is not a fluffy, “you’re special!” message rather we want you to poke a bit to see if you are uncomfortable with the idea that God loves you. Theologian Kelly Kapic talks about this in his book “You’re Only Human.” He said that when he asks college students and adults if God loves them they will give a quick “yes” but if he asks them if God “likes” them they typically look down and hesitate to answer. Kapic goes on to explain that the word “like” communicates delight and preference ( Kelly Kapic, “You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News: p 18-19). And we get slightly uncomfortable with the idea that God particularly delights in us as his people and you/me in particular. It could be that we’re acquainted with our sin and deficiencies and those disqualify us from God’s delight…, but places like Psalm 139 tell us that God is MORE acquainted with our sin, failures and weakness than we are and yet still loves us.

God is not obligated to love us. His interactions with us are not based on duty, if he interacted with us based on rules or obligations then he would be limited. Rather his love is freely given from an overflow of who he is. Paul wrote about this gospel truth in Romans 5:6-11 with some of the most powerful words in the New Testament. While we were weak, sinners and enemies… Christ died for us (Romans 5:6, 8, 10). In verse 8 Paul pulls back the curtain to teach us what God was doing in Christ’s death and resurrection — God “shows his love for us.” God does not love you because Christ died for you, like some how God is frustrated and angry but then Jesus stepped in as the more compassionate and kind version of God. No, God sent Jesus to die for us BECAUSE he already loved us. Notice the outcome of Christ’s death in Romans 5:8-11; Paul wrote that in Christ we were justified, able to see God’s love, saved, and reconciled. He even mentioned being saved twice and reconciled three times in this short passage! 

Have you applied Romans 5:8 to yourself? While you were weak Christ died for YOU. Or do you think of it in a generic sense that Christ died for “some people” and maybe Im included in that category but kind of doubt it? When you run into your human limits with times like not being able to get enough done or running out of time or struggling with your emotions do you think that some how God must be frustrated with your limits or do you remember and know his love for you in particular, not just you in “theory?”

Sinner and Saint
Romans 5:9-11
If you’re a follower of Jesus you are simultaneously a sinner and a saint. Culturally we use the word saint to either refer to someone from church history who did “great things” or to talk about someone around today who is extra “good.” However the New Testament refers to ordinary church members as “saints” (Ephesians 2:19). The words saint means “one who has been made holy.” As we read through Romans 5:6-11 we read that we are justified and saved and reconciled. To be justified is to be brought into God’s saving presence through Christ having received forgiveness from our sin. To be saved means to be rescued from impending danger; for a Christian this is both the consequence of being separated from God in the here and now as well as eternal separation (or in our text, “saved from wrath”). To be reconciled is to be restored to right relationship and fellowship with God. These are all benefits of being a “saint.” At the same time we still struggle with sin and have a sin nature and thus will experience times where we wonder if God can really love someone like us. Paul described himself as the “chief of sinners” but also applied the gospel to himself by saying that he received undeserved mercy from God (1 Tim 1:15-16). 

When it comes to your standing with Christ, do you think your human limits disqualify you from receiving his help and mercy? God has designed us to need him and he does not shy away from helping us rather he delights in it. That is why were are invited to trust him, learn from him and pray. All of those things imply that he is not looking for us to somehow be independent from him. And more than that, his love for us is not based on ignorance, his love for us flows from his character and is joined with his infinite knowledge of us. God knows you better than you know yourself, and that is why while you were weak and at the right time Christ died for you. You may be tempted to think he is irritated and frustrated with you, but God never changes and the same God who rescued you from your sin is the same God who is at work in your life right now. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:

What do you think the difference between love and like is? How do you think you would have responded to the question “Does God like you?” before this study guide and sermon?

Read Romans 5:6-11. How does this passage describe who we were before being saved by Christ? 

What do you think Paul meant when he wrote “while we were still weak?” Do you feel “weak” and does that impact your thoughts about God’s attitude towards you?

If God is infinite, that means he has infinite knowledge of you. What are some ways that helps you view God’s love and being reconciled to God? Try to give some practical examples as a group.