Shrader to Chapel: God’s love is free and clear
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
It’s safe to say that no previous Chapel talk at Grand Canyon University has contained any of these statements:
- “I made a list of what I love: pizza, movies, music, Iowa football. I love Grand Canyon. I also love Peoria — I don’t know if anybody’s ever said that.”
- Marriage vows are “problematic” because they imply that life will be difficult (“… in sickness and in health,” etc.).
- Some of the lyrics in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” — “He sees you if you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake” — are “kinda creepy.”
Yes, Tom Shrader of Redemption Church has a different way of looking at things. But that was the key to Shrader’s message Monday morning about the simple concept of God’s love for each of us: While our relationships tend to be conditional, God has a far different approach.
“When God says, ‘I love you,’ it’s not based on your performance,” Shrader said. “It’s not a love that’s going to end if your performance changes. …
“God loves you in spite of you, not because of you. You and I love in this conditional way — I love you if, I love you when, I love you because. God loves you. He cannot love you anymore than He does right now, and He’s never going to love you any less.”
Shrader read three verses from Chapter 5 in the Book of Romans. Verse 6: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Verse 8: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Verse 10: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, how much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!”
Shrader noted several ways in which our lives are performance-related from the time we are young, such as playing sports. That’s where the Santa Claus reference came in — the idea that what we get from old St. Nick is going to depend on whether we were naughty or nice this year.
“It’s human relationship. It’s human ‘I love you,’” Shrader said.
In the same vein, when Shrader did marriage counseling years ago he was struck by how often one of the spouses would say, “If I knew that about you, I never would have married you.”
Wedding vows, on the other hand, are “not a man and a woman saying, ‘I love you now.’ Get this — what’s it say? ‘I will love you forever.’ It implies difficulty,” he said.
And it’s not as if drawing closer to God through repentance, faith and living in the Holy Spirit is easy — if it was, there probably wouldn’t be much of a need for Chapel talks like the one Shrader gave Monday. It was a message he felt compelled to share, and he said his only fear with tackling the topic was that people would think “God loves you” is something they hear all the time.
“No, I’m talking about this in a brand new way,” he said. “He … loves … you. You’re not on probation with God.”
● For a replay of Shrader’s talk, click here.
● Next week: No Chapel (Thanksgiving break)
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.