Monday, July 6, 2009
CAN and DO I LOVE GOD?
Many of Christians have spoken with countless friends, family members and strangers of the deep things of God, the details of faith , and even of hypocrisy and that which wages war against Him. Some of those conversations were merely debates or arguments, while some, reaping much joy, were Holy Spirit inspired and definably Divine Moments or Appointments of what is referred to as Divine Intervention. Millions of people talk about God and sometimes those conversations actually help people grow closer to Him. Whether believer or heathen, spiritually mature or not, seeker or skeptic, devout or foolish: Don’t you wonder certain things about Him. Like “Is God is like us? Does He love? Does He bleed? Does He know what it’s like to die?” Well, Judeo-Christians have taught for two thousand years that the answer is “Yes.” However, I have another question that many skeptics, seekers and believers, even some more mature ones, think about, whether they have not voiced it with words or not. The question is not if God can love “me,” but if “I” can love God. You may have heard the message and Good News of Jesus Christ, that God loves you (John 3:16) but does it work both ways? So, can you love God? I know that masses of people can name at least one person in their life whom they claim to “love,” but are you able to love Him in the same manner as you love others or in a higher fashion, if that is truly possible? God should be easy to love, right? I think He is, but do you? Are you entranced by His majesty, beauty, strength, wisdom, splendor and character? I find Him irresistible because I know Him. I know Him only from the fact that He first knew me, loved me, sought me out, and revealed Himself to me. In order to love God we must ask ourselves, “Is He worth loving?” and “Would He be effected by my love?” He has everything and is everything. So, would it even matter to Him if I said those three words for Him and really meant them? Yes…Yes and Yes, it would!
The Apostles John, who walked so closely with JESUS that he “leaned his head on His chest,” says that “God is Love (1 John).” Well, if He is love than loving Him should be simple. There is only one issue though, we are not the embodiment of love itself. We, aka the human race, have fallen from grace. “All have sane and fallen short of God’s glory.” Without getting too wrapped up in our sin and depravity lets remember what happened before all our troubles: “ and He made them male and female in His image, in the image of God He made them.” So, if God is Love itself or Himself, than the desire to love should be supernaturally engrained or deposited some how into the very nature of those made in His image. The ability needs awakened by the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, the lover of our souls, but I believe that He has already put at least the desire in our hearts. Some have fought it, “in the last day the love of men will grow cold,” Others have sown into it, “If I have but not love, than I am a resounded noise.”
It’s not the “love” characteristic of God that some people have issues with. Rather, as rebellious teenagers may resist the discipline of a parent who will not yield to their comprises, some avoid God like a criminal does the police. He is the ultimate JUDGE of all things said and done, and "will judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter). Though the full extent of His Judgment is not fulfilled or has completely come to pass, He has historically exercised some portions of His wrath. Read the Old Testament and there are many examples. I have heard some say that these instances are what they have trouble with in regards to knowing God. They say, “how can a loving God do that, like have someone killed or cursed?” Well, He alone (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) qualifies as judge because He is perfect and Holy. He tells us to “Hate evil and love good ” (Romans 12:9, Amos 5:15, Psalm 97:10) for He is obligated by His own character to do just that. We need this Character impregnated in us otherwise we may yield to the sinful nature which entices us to revert to “survival mode” and focus on self preservation and selfishness. God unlike us, enjoys being Holy and above all. He reviles evil and makes all things work out for good, whether instantly or in His time. While on His first earthly ministry Jesus exemplified this truth. When the poor and the things of God were exploited He acted without much hesitation. He kicked the money changers out of the Temple. Though He cleansed the temple 3 times, He was there many other times without doing cleansing it. Even so, He eventually could no longer stand by a watch evil persist. God has his buttons and they are being pressed or pushed daily. However, he sees things through an eternal perspective where one day He will respond is such strength towards the evils that mock His Holiness and oppress the innocent in such ways that they will be utterly destroyed,. After this time Jesus said that “I will “make all things new” and that God will wipe away all the tears from their eyes of His children.
When I was 16 years old I was in a Youth group Sunday school service I where I observed a video with speaker, pastor, author and socialogist Tony Campolo. He said, “you can believe are the right stuff and not LOVE JESUS!” Ten years later a friend told me one day “ I just don’t feel like playing this good Christian thing anymore… saying God Bless you and not telling people what I really feel.” I responded with many words but first, told “Good. Now that you honest with God He can build upward from there.” You see it wasn’t about my friend pretending to a good Christian to make some of the other, possibly more legalistic Christians around him happy with him. It’s if he LOVE’S JESUS! He had a history of drugs and promiscuity, and needed to give that up to God not only because it was the right thing to do and he rightfully felt convicted over it, but because he loved Jesus. While writing this I have come to the understanding that my next conversation with him should be about this truth. When I was 18 an old friend of mine with a slight catholic upbringing had become involve with new age belief and witchcraft. When sometimes talked about Christ he admitted, “Yeagh, Jesus is different though.” He was saying that there was something about Jesus that was mysterious, right and attractive. So, why didn’t he embrace Jesus with all his might? I don’t know. I hope he has now. He desparately wanted to follow and probably new that God loved Him so much that He sent his son to die, but my friend didn’t know how to love Jesus for some reason, at least not yet
LOVE AND JUSTICE COEXISTING
Remember I told about 1 John 4 "God is Love." many people have trouble understanding Him as love as well as Holy and Just all at once. So, let me explain how Christ reconciles the perfect Holiness of God (He must to uphold righteousness and justice by nature and His character makes Him forever true to His Word and Holy standards) Well, how then do Grace and Wrath fit in the same plan? God must uphold Justice and "the wages ( consequence or punishment) of sin is death (romans 3)" and in the same chapter "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Now, if God must remain Holy and perfect and be the perfect Judge that His is, and you wouldn't want it any other way, than He has to punish sin. We as finite beings and sinners may ask "is that fair?" Yes, it is what we all deserve, no matter how nice a person seems, sin is still present.... that's why Jesus came. And you and I know that Jesus had to have chosen to come for lots of reasons.
If people don't want God to punish sin than Holiness and true Justice would not be exercised, and what would Jesus have died for? Jesus' death paid the "wages of sin" for "those who believe (john 1:12 and 3:16)" So, his love and mercy created a bridge to justice and wrath. For those who believe, God poured out the wrath and punishment that we earned unto Christ on the cross . Jesus' sacrifice satisfies true and fair justice, because OUR sin, for those who accept it, has been paid for, we are covered by the precious Blood of The Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world. Those who reject God's act and extension of divine love, grace and mercy, may say "I'll take my chances, or maybe He'll let me off the hook?" and still have to pay for the "wages" that they have earned by sinning over an over. Jesus offers them the chance for Him to pay their debt for them and some people refuse, thinking “if my good wages (deeds and their consequential actions) out weigh my bad ones than maybe that will be enough?" But as long as sin is still unaccounted for (by God who knows all), than the one who committed the sins will be held accountable for them unless they can pay or someone else (namely JESUS) can pay it for them.
Some people think they may think that this life gives them enough time to do enough good works to get by, but the law of God demands and requires perfection which only comes from Him any way. If we try to obtain perfection some other way we would “fall short” like Romans 3 says. Jesus said in the gospels that every “word" and "a man's works" will be judged according to what a person has done. Its more than fair, for God has given us an opportunity to receive a redemption that even angels don not get. AND His also gave us Himself, His Son, God in the Flesh. He came and dwelt among us (John 1). So, if God dies for us than that is above and beyond what a limited sense of justice like ours would obligate Him to do. His Mercy is so great because he didn't have to do all that just for us, He had the power and the right to destroy us all. And remember that God is Life itself and separation from Him, or Life, is death. than death is what we deserve, separation from Him, which is what hell truly is, I chose Christ I chose Life, you see? Any way, you may have heard this but I know that God's wrath is hard to understand sometimes, I just wanted to assure you that the God who has"lavished His love on us (Paul said)" is the same God who "will judge the living and the dead (1 peter)"AND that this is a good and marvelous truth that God can be both LOVE and JUSTICE all at once.
Praise God, Amen!! thanks for reading with and open heart. love you - B
Its like this, God is the Judge and Love as well. Let's Imagine a court room, maybe the Judge
(played by GOD) would be examining this case. The accuser (the devil) could say, “Your Honor, in the case of “the Law versus “mankind”, you have admitted to the whole human race, as recorded in their own texts, that “all like sheep have gone astray (Book of Isaiah)” and giving them your own Holy Law stating, “Chose this day... life or death (Exodus and Deuteronomy).” Therefore you're own words condemn them. Should you not correct this matter? than let the defendants be sentenced immediately.” And then the Defense counsel (Jesus) who is also the prosecution ( He would be the only one qualified for both positions) could say, “Your honor, Father, I do not need to remind this court of the agreement we had before the foundation of the world and the creation of mankind.” The judge could reply, “What I have done, I have done. All have sinned and fallen short of my Glory and the wages of (their) sin is death. Since, my glory has been dishonored and evil has taken place because of this sin, the price of death must be paid that My Law may be upheld in perfect justice.” So, maybe the Judge sends a summons letter, a copy of the law and explanations thereof (all 3 are in the Bible) to those who represent the whole human race (Prophets and Apostles). And part of the letter could say something like this, “Because of your deeds and disregard for the law a sentencing must commence-but your Advocate (lawyer) and I have come to an agreement that fulfills the law to the fullest degree, and still gives each of you a chance to pay for the damages that you have done according to your works... we have decided that you have exactly one lifetime or how ever long you live, to find someone else to pay this debt for you, since you are unable. He must be blameless and without sin, and worthy of the highest honor and praise in order to withstand death (the punishment) and my wrath. I am pleased to announce to the defendants, that the defense counsel Himself, Jesus Christ my own Son, has offered to pay these damages for you in accordance with the terms of the law. He has appeased my Holy anger and satisfied my jealous and compassionate love for you by willingly shedding His own blood unto death for each of you and rising again unto glory So, do you accept His offer and come into agreement with my only Son and I?” Now, God is really a Judge and Jesus is our real Advocate and doesn't this scenario sound somewhat similar to the Bible?