“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be crrtainly wrung and possibly
broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it careful with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless- it will change. It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable… The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves).
As I closed the end of part 1 of this blog I mentioned that God is love. That God sent his son that whoever would believe in him, would have eternal life. That love does no wrong to it’s neighbor. That love is the fulfillment of the law.
But back we come to our problem. If you go back several blogs you will see the problem we wrestle with the ten commandments. We cannot fulfill them. As I quoted Erwin McManus in an earlier blog, he suggests this on the 10 commandments:
“The ten commandments are not heaven’s standards… They are not God’s attempt to pull us up beyond the human into the spiritual. The Ten Commandments are the lowest possible standard of humane living. Stop and consider what they demand of us. Maybe it would help if we just rephrased them in everyday language. Here goes: ‘hey could you stop killing each other? Oh, yeah, and by the way, could you not steal each other’s stuff? And it would be really helpful if you wouldn’t lie to each other and here’s a thought, could you not take other people’s husbands and sort of, like, keep your own? Upon reflection, these are unreasonable right? How could anyone be expected to live up to those? Only God could do that, right? Why don’t we get it? Anything below these standards is choosing to live like an animal, a barbarian. The Ten Commandments don’t call us to extraordinary life; they call us to stop dehumanizing each other. The law is the minimum of what it means to be human.”.
And yet, when we read it, we still find ourselves disqualifying from being able to love perfectly, and fulfill the law by loving perfectly.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear., because fear has to do with punishment, the one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:17-19
Who can love this perfectly? And unconditionally? God alone.
So where is our help?
Let me unpack this great love God has for us, and how Christ became the willing perfectly human, perfectly god in the flesh, able to love sinlessly and flawlessly to rescue us from our fallen state by taking on the consequences for all of our sins onto himself, (perfect justice placed on Christ’s sacrifice on The cross) allowing us to go free and receive the benefits of the good news of grace and unmerited favor of God. We go free. If we believe on what Jesus did, who he was, and receive it, there is now no more condemnation for our sins and offenses. Jesus paid it all. It is a simple message that we complicate so much. We go free. All we have to do, is believe, by faith, that Jezus is who he said he was.
Check this out, to understand the love of God and the concepts of mercy and justice a little more. Often hearing about the simple message of the good news: I go free because of what he did… No more guilt, no more striving, no more consequence for failure, because he took it all, is to mind boggling to believe. It just can’t be that simple. And yet, despite it’s simplicity, what we wrestle with internally is the sin nature within us, vying for complete control of one’s own self, independence, and distrust of the character and goodness of God and we often find ourselves stuck here:
“The mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. And those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” So again we find ourselves stuck.
“if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord (God), and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-10.
If we believe in Him and place our faith in him that he is the messiah prophesied to come and redeem his people, and can understand that God loves ALL of us, and desires none of us to be outside of fellowship with him, our faith saves us, and we are born again. Symbolically, we die to our old sinful nature with his death on the cross where he takes all of our sin and shame, and even our sickness and infirmities onto himself on the cross, dying in our place – as death is the natural requirement to pay the consequences of sin – and in his resurrection, symbolically, we are raised to life with him, having the power and spirit of God now indwelling us to use that power of the new nature to exhibit self-control and resist the sinful temptations we face, and by his strength at work in us, we are given the power to overcome the sin nature still at war within us. His spirit gives us strength to choose or live according to the nature of Christ, and love when we thought we couldn’t, to really genuinely forgive when we felt incapable, to resist yielding to independence and
Ride, and the people pleasing, performance trap, and accept and receive God’s grace and unmerited favor towards us. We must only believe.
There is so much more to unpack about this simple, and yet so difficult concept to believe, about the love of God to plan a way to bring our wayward independent hearts back to a trusting relationship in the God who created us, loved us, grieved at our independence, pursued us with al, his heart and made a way for us to have a perfectly restored relationship with him. All our sins he remembers no more. When we believe in Jesus, all God sees is the blood that Jesus shed on our behalf, taking all our sin, shame and imperfections upon himself, and he just sees us as his creation, dearly loved by God.
I have much more to say on the subject but not enough time today! Stay tuned. I may unpack this unconditional love further in my Wednesday blog! And again next Monday, on understanding God’s love!
Stay tuned this Friday as well, as I discuss sexual abuse in my series on abuse on Fridays.
Take care, and God bless!