Hosea 1:2-3, 6-10 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. . . . Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them-- not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the LORD their God." After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the LORD said, "Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.

If there is one thing you notice in reading the prophet Hosea, it is that what we call dysfunctional families are nothing new. If there is a difference between then and today, it may be that we seem no longer to be embarrassed or ashamed. Today’s proverb is "Well, No one is perfect!" And there is something dreadfully wrong with this proverbial attitude – especially when it comes to Christians. For we know that God is perfect, and we believe that by grace through faith, God has made us his children. As the children of God, what we do reflects on our heavenly father, and if for no other reason, we strive to be what God created us to be – thus we turn from sin, and we turn from the world’s easy way – and we gladly do what God commands.

But there have been times when it has been hard to encourage the people of God to be what they were called to be.

You do not look for a wife who will be unfaithful

You do not call your child "not loved"

You do not call you child "not mine"

But what do you do when you find yourself in that situation? Today, it seems we give up. If a wife isn’t faithful – get a divorce, you deserve better. But that’s not what happens in Hosea, love never gives up, but it believes all things endures all things, hopes all things. Love never fails. At least that is what the scriptures says. Our love might fail, but God’s doesn’t. And that is what is at the center of this whole story – God’s powerful love.

The problem is that we can hardly talk about God’s powerful love, because in our language, powerful love usually refers to lust. And if its not lust, it is usually weak, wishy-washy indulgence, or sinful tolerance of evil. But this is not the love of God. God’s love is first of all seen in discipline, if we really were not his children and really unloved – then there would be no call to repentance, no call to live as the children of God. But there is.

While God may accept us just as we are, he does not let us remain just as we were, but he works to transform us, until by his grace we are indeed the children of God. Hosea is the story of this love in action, strong images, and sometimes strong language – but it is not that which comes from anger, but that which comes from love.