God loves you, regardless. His commands are conditions to enjoy his presence, for he is holy and whoever approaches him must be purified through obedient faith in the blood of Christ. His commands are not requirements for love. He loved you before you sinned, and after. It is his love that reaches out to you and invites you to obedience. His love comes before your obedience, not after.
Humans make behavior a condition of love. To earn love you must do this or that, or be perfect in some way. God does not do this. His commands put us in a position to receive forgiveness. His commands are themselves an expression of his love.
The love of God is constant. His saving grace, however, has conditions. God looks upon us with love all the time. He desires us every day. He wants us to be with him always. But he can only fulfill his desires toward us when we accept his terms of communion. When we refuse, he feels deep sorrow. Our repentance brings him great joy.
Two common misunderstandings diminish the love of God. One, that we must earn his love through our perfection. Two, and perhaps the more common one today, that God’s love is permissive of any action and dismissive of obedience. Both are deadly to our relationship to him, turning his love into either pettiness or permissiveness.
The Lord is not a white-glove God, like the visiting mother-in-law who turns up her nose at a speck of dust. Neither is he a doting grand-deity who thinks anything his children do is cute.
God loves and forgives. He seeks to extend his mercy. He makes it simple to approach him. May we ever be sure of his love and secure in his grace.
¶ Today we honor Richard Mansel, who has been writing for Forthright Magazine for 12 years, without missing a lick. Richard served for a time as Managing Editor, until circumstances prevented him. His column, “Living the Faith,” is popular. We quickly learned to lean on his dependability. He has been a good friend through thick and thin.
¶ Rants against legalism are often attempts to do away with the requirement of obedience to the commandments of God, which is necessary for salvation. The greater danger today is not binding, but loosing. There are many more Sadducees than Pharisees in today’s religious world, and in the church itself.
¶ Success has many measures. Last Saturday, I stood in for the deceased father of the bride as I walked her down the aisle (photo, right). I didn’t trip and fall as we marched up to the pulpit, so I considered it a successful wedding.
¶ Terminal 1 of the international airport was practically empty on Friday last. I asked the lady at the check-in counter if everybody had traveled the previous day, since Thursday was a national holiday and many take Friday off, making for a long weekend. Nope, she said, both days were slow. Sign of the economic crisis in the country. Maybe we did well, then, to fly rather than drive.
¶ It’s getting to be a habit we’re happy to adapt to: The Missus and I are being ushered into the priority lines at airports. Gray hair has its advantages.
¶ Mike Riley shared this fine op-ed piece by a friend of his in the El Paso TX newspaper on poetry. “The poet’s journey has no map, because he wanders into an unchartered territory of language.”
¶ Barbara O. tells me the book is now in her hands, from the printer. The Right Kind of Christianity. Be sure to get your copy, at the link. Ten great writers, many of whom you know, share the word of God about the Way. This is a great book for classes and study groups.
¶ Here is a great goal: “My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” Col 2.2-3.
When it comes to full assurance of understanding, many people are poor indeed. Here is true wealth, to know for sure. I pray you may have it.
Feel free to detach the first part of this Corollaries segment for use in church bulletins. Be sure to give credit to author and link to this post.