Friday, September 18, 2009

Beginning with God 6, my answers

If you missed Scot's original post, it's just a couple of entries below.

What has helped you get over the God-loves-me and winks-at-sin narrative about God and reality? What helps you keep God's love and holiness in balance?

I think this is one of the hardest questions in today's Christian world. The heart and core of trusting God is knowing that he loves you no matter what. No matter what you think, no matter what you do, no matter how you feel . . .no matter what. If we cannot believe that he loves us to that level, then how can we trust that what he does and what he allows will work for our good?

But does that love mean that we are free to think whatever, do whatever, feel however? Is it love because of or love in spite of? If a thought, action, feeling is a part of us does it inherently mean that it is of God and blessed by him? If God loves me no matter what, then what I do doesn't really matter, does it?

Although it's easy to throw your hands up and complain about the individuality of today's culture and the need for religion-that-suits-me, this is actually a question that was asked a LONG time ago.

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with him? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was. Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

We may not always be able to control our feelings, but we can have a lot of say about what we think and what we do. We're set free to choose what we will think about and do. Will we choose perfectly? No. Will God's grace cover that? Always.

God frees our spirits to choose to serve him and love others. He may not change our outer circumstances. He may not remove everything that tempts us, but he will give us the ability to choose. Although "God loves me no matter what" may be someone's reason for continuing in sin, it is precisely that love that cannot allow him to do that. He LOVES you and he knows what is good for you. For me. When he says, "please don't do this," it's only because he knows that thought, feeling, action, is going to hurt you and his other children. He is inviting you -- me -- us -- to a life more beautiful than anything we could create on our own.

The balance between love and justice will never be easy, but Jesus was "full of grace and truth." May the truth keep us in line and the grace keep us in step with Jesus when we fail to meet the standard of the truth.


Sheila said...

I think we may make this harder than it needs to be. When you think of a person who is holy, and who has shown they love you greatly, who has accepted you knowing your sin, the natural response is to want to love them back and honor their way of life.

I think of the bishop and Jean Valjean.

I think of Jeff, my spiritual director.

I think of Father Stevens.

When I think of them, I want very much to live righteously.

God is like that person times a million. I'm concerned that a lot of Christians don't really know Him very well at all as a person, not just an idea.

I'm really glad you're reading and writing these things and sorry my life has been such that I haven't been very regular in reading. Maybe that will change now that the majority of our kitchen work is done.

lisa b said...

Agreed. I still remember when I discovered the prophets in the OT. I'd been immersed in the NT from early days and had read the history books in the OT, but somehow the prophets just skipped over me.

The passion of this God for his people -- the weeping bridegroom -- the estranged husband -- the adoptive father. How did I miss this God?

We're very good at talking about the reconciliation that Jesus provided, but somehow I missed out on whom I was being reconciled to.

It all begins with knowing God and knowing his great love.