July 25, 2020
Forgiveness: such a powerful piece of our faith! All we need to do is to confess our sins and ask the Lord for forgiveness and we are absolutely and completely forgiven. What a wonderful truth! As we hear so often: we are forgiven and free to start over. Period. All we have to do is ask and it is done, without exception.
Still, as powerful as forgiveness is, I believe there is an even greater, more powerful piece of our faith; something we never have to ask for, never have to do a thing in order to receive it – it just is.
And that powerful piece is the unconditional, unending love of God.
Remarkably, this truth is very hard for many of us to accept; maybe because we don’t feel worthy of such love…..
Have you ever heard the words, thought the words, or even spoken the words: “God won’t forgive what I’ve done THIS time! I knew better but I did it anyway – there’s no get out of hell card for me now!”… Yeah, me, too!
Yet, when we hear these things – think these things – even say these things out loud – what we are doing is limiting God and God’s love to only what we can accept within the context of our limited human understanding. We are denying the essence of God’s nature.
How do I know? Not because I have secret knowledge, but because scripture tells us the truth of God’s love no uncertain terms.
The nature of God is love! (1 John 4:8); were God to refuse to love us, God would no longer be behaving in a way consistent with God’s nature.
Unfortunately, we often put God in a box of human understanding, thinking God can and will only love us to the extent that we have experienced human love – a love with strings attached, a love that lasts only as long as it is convenient for the lover. So, hear the truth we may have heard many times before – but this time take it in:
Nothing can separate us from God’s love! (Romans 8:38-39). NOTHING! Absolutely NOTHING!
Sure, we screw up – we act in ways that break God’s heart. But God still loves us. It’s non-negotiable: Christ came for ALL the world – not just for the ‘good’ kids. (John 3:16).
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God went to a lot of trouble to help us hear and understand God’s love: Christ, in the person of Jesus, taught – and continues to teach us – about God’s love through the Lord’s ministry and sacrifice.
Jesus said that there is no one who is good – not one! (Mark 10:18) Yet, even so, there isn’t a person among us who is beyond the love of God and the embrace of the Son. Period. Not only that, but we never have to ask God to love us; never have to figure out what hoops to jump through to ‘earn’ God’s love. We need only trust that this powerful piece of our faith is true – because it is!
So, okay, what’s my point? My point is that this amazing, holy, and divine love is a game changer!
Since God loves ME no matter what I’ve done or left undone, and no matter whether people love me or not, that truth becomes the catalyst for me to want to live a life worthy of God’s great love.
I’m NOT saying I have to live a certain way so that God will love me, but rather that I want to live a certain way because God ALREADY loves me!
But that is easier said that done, right? Sure is!
Trying to live a life pleasing to God would still be a colossal failure if God hadn’t given each of us the amazing ever-present gift of God’s love: the Holy Spirit. The Spirit infills and empowers us to grow not only closer to God, but the Spirit works with us to reshape us into God’s image day by day, that is if we are willing to cooperate. God the Spirit will never force God’s self on us – force is not loving. It is our choice to receive the Spirit or not. But if we receive God’s loving Spirit, the work begins!
Don’t agree? Well, are you the same person you were before you began to journey through life with Christ – even if you are just thinking about beginning the journey, aren’t things in your life changing?
- How often do you choose not to say or do something now that you would have said or done in the past without a second thought?
- Think about your vocabulary. Don’t know about you, but there were words I used in college that I can no longer utter. Admittedly, I am still working on my vocabulary, but each time I slip up, the Spirit puts me in check as I remember James 3:5-12!
- How about judging? How often do we self-righteously judge others as being far more sinful than we are? The Spirit checks me as I recall Matthew 7:1-5.
You probably have examples of your own about those ways God has lovingly put a check on your spirit. But…why is the Spirit’s check on our spirit matter?
Because God loves us.
Loving someone doesn’t mean enabling them to do whatever they like.
Even though God loves us when we mess up, God seeks our greater good and holds us to account as the children of God and allows us to live out the consequences of our ‘not love of God’ choices.’ Even then, God is still with us, loving us without being asked, waiting for us to love God enough to ask for forgiveness and the opportunity to begin again. Forgiveness is an offshoot of love.
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Being the beloved of God and living into that divine love matters more now than ever; we live in a world ravaged by judgment and hatred, cynicism and distrust; most everything comes with strings attached. The good news is that: knowing we are unconditionally loved, (unlove-able as we often are), we are more easily able to love those other ‘unlovable’ souls out there. God loves them, so we should as well – without condition, and certainly without making them work to deserve our love!
What a paradigm shift this would be for our world! It all begins with one person choosing to love – and then another and another. It’s part of God’s plan. Want to give it a shot? Me, too!
And to God be the glory! AMEN.