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Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Name of God.

This morning, I was listening to a converted Muslim bring the message at the worship service.  Later, at the "cuppa and biscuits", he and I were talking.  I raised the subject of the name of God in Islam, as many people seem to think that it is "Allah".  He was able to confirm that "Allah" is, in fact, merely the Arabic word that is translated into the English language as "God".  It is not a name at all!

Islam does teach that there are "ninety-nine beautiful names" for Allah.  It is said that there are, in fact, one hundred names, but an old legend states that only the camel knows the one hundredth - and that that is why it walks around with its nose in the air!

My new friend smiled as I reminded him of that legend.  "There is a one hundredth name," he said.  "It's Love!"

That, of course is the message that is at the heart of the Gospel.  John, in his first letter to the early church at large, emphaises that fact by repeating it - "God is love" (I John 4:8,16) and, of course, in his account of the Gospel message, he was inspired to write one of the best-known texts in the whole of the Bible - often referred to as "the Gospel in a nutshell" - "For God loved the world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son; that whoever places their trust in Him should not perish, but have - here and now - eternal (i.e. God-like) life." (John 3:16).

That's the God Whom disciples of Jesus seek to share with others.  A God Who loves - and Who loves unconditionally!  You may think that you are not, and never could be, worthy of His love - and you would be absolutely correct!  But He loves you with an everlasting love, and shows that by His sacrificial death at Calvary - bearing the punishment that you (and I!) deserve, so that we may have His life within us.

Sadly, there are many who refuse to respond, positively, to that love but, as Albert Schweitzer (I believe!) once remarked, "God is a Gentleman, and will not force Himself on anyone."  But for those who do respond, in repentance, and faith, there is a life that is filled with His peace - regardless of situation or circumstances - and love.  Have you responded to Him in that way?  If not, why not?  It's the way to life - "life in all its fulness" (John 10:10).  I commend it to you.

"God is Love."  The heart of the Gospel - and a Name that, to the best of my knowledge, is given in no other belief-system in the world.

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