The playwright Arthur Miller wrote a memoir in the late 1980s. Miller had a lot of great stories to tell; he had written acclaimed plays (including Death of a Salesman and The Crucible) and movies. He had interacted with some of the most famous people in the history of the entertainment business. But what most people were eager to read about was his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. In the book, Miller describes watching Monroe fall deeper into despair and drug addiction during the filming of The Misfits, the movie he wrote. One evening, after a doctor had been persuaded to give Marilyn yet another shot and she was sleeping, Miller stood watching her. "I found myself straining to imagine miracles," he writes. "What if she were to wake and I were able to say, 'God loves you, darling,' and she were able to believe it! How I wished I still had my religion and she hers." A little more than a year and a half later, she was dead.
That’s a heartbreaking story, and it’s hard for me not to think of that when I see a picture of Marilyn Monroe or watch one of her movies. Yet it also makes me realize how fortunate I am that I can say with confidence “God loves us.” But how can I have this confidence? Last week we looked at that statement in v. 8, “God is love.” But is that proof? Some may not be convinced. An abusive husband will often tell his wife, “You know that I love you.” A crooked politician says to his potential constituents, “I love all the people of my district.” How do we know that it’s not just words when God says He loves us? And even if He’s sincere, what good does it really do for God to feel this way about us? Last week, I read in a second-grade class at McNamara. It was my last time with those kids for this school year, and I told them I hoped to see them again next year. One little girl raised her hand and said I wouldn’t be seeing her, because she was going to another school. Simultaneously several students said “Yes!” The teacher quickly reprimanded those kids, and I tried to soften things for that little girl, but there was nothing either of us could do to take away the hurt she felt. It showed on her face. I have no idea what this child had done to bring the scorn of her entire class upon herself, but would it have made her feel better if someone told her that God loves her? Should it?Those might be the two most important questions you will ever consider: Does God really love me? Does it really matter? I believe we find the answers in three key phrases of our text for this Sunday, 1 John 4:9-10. I hope you'll be with us at WBC.