Friday, December 10, 2010

"God is Love"

"God is love." God revealed this central truth about Himself in both Old and New Testament times. It's why 1 John 4:8 says, "Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love."

So, would a loving God ever describe His human children with names like wicked, fools, or stupid?

As Dave Branon points out in this piece, the loving God of the universe Who ultimately disclosed Himself in the crucified and risen Jesus, has used these names for some people.

I hope that you'll read Branon's piece, especially if your notions about what the Bible means in saying that "God is love," has created a false image of God as an indulgent grandparent who doesn't care how we defile ourselves, hurt others, or dishonor Him.

Take it from someone who has done lots of wicked, stupid, and foolish things, for which God still calls me out each day, if God didn't love you, He wouldn't call you out for sins or willful ignorance of His will.

It's when God calls us out and we dare to hear what His Word tells us about His will for human beings, that we can exercise the gift of repentance and experience a fuller relationship with Christ.

Two other passages of Scripture come to mind as I think about the tough and tender love of God that loves you just as you are, but loves you too much to leave you there.

One comes from King David, the adulterer and murderer who the Bible describes as a "man after God's own heart." David knew all about having his deeds exposed for being wicked, foolish, and stupid. Remember that David had an affair with another man's wife and then arranged to have that man murdered. For two years, David went on merrily with his life before being confronted for his sins by the prophet Nathan. David repented. Psalm 51 is his song of repentance. But, here's something he wrote for the benefit of his fellow sinners who may be less than inclined to accept God's judgment of them for wickedness, foolishness, or stupidity:
Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.
And then there are these words, from the same New Testament book which reminds us that, "God is love." (Some of what's said in 1 John 1:8-10, will be familiar to most Lutherans, who hear words drawn from this section of Scripture regularly in our liturgy):
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
God's enduring will for the human race is laid out clearly for us in what scholars call the Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments, here. Unlike Old Testament ritual and civil laws, the Ten Commandments are valid for all time.

They're well interpreted for us in 1 Timothy 1:8-10.

It's wicked, foolish, and stupid for us to willfully flout the law of God because doing so separates us from Him and His desire to be with us forever.

But when we confess our sins--when we acknowledge that God is right in calling us out for our sin--and seek and accept the forgiveness God freely offers in Jesus Christ, God not only forgives us, God also gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to resist our inborn inclinations to sin.

God is love!

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