The God of Creation is the only Supreme Spiritual Being who doesn’t require His ‘subjects’ to submit to the strict obedience of a set of rules, perform painful, personal sacrifice, cower before Him in reverential fear. Instead, God scandalously sets Himself apart as the One God who, because of Love, seeks ‘friends’ who would Love Him, and who, in so doing, would reciprocally receive His Love. More outrageously, God loved so enormously, so desperately, that He commissioned His Son, the Second Adam, to come and die as the price of irreversibly flinging open the door to relationship that was slammed shut through the first Adam’s choosing independence. Today, because of Jesus, we still find that door wide open with a huge WELCOME sign posted for all to enter. Incredible, but here we are, of all people, having come in!
A study of world religions reveals a very different story. First, there are capricious gods, angry gods, punitive gods, mostly absent gods, but none are loving nor are they living. Second, all religions are fabricated by man and are controlled through manmade rule and regulations. Third, all religions contain conditions concerning life after death, threatening devotees should they fail to obey all that is demanded of them.
The good news? Christianity is not a religion, but an invitation to a relational journey to the Father’s heart! The bad news about the good news? The nature we are born with (the one passed on to us since Eden’s door was shut) is fearful and loads us down with insecurities, guilt, shame, unworthiness, and despair. We are convinced that good news must be too good to be true (for us). And a Holy God loving us is way too much to take in!
Jesus’ disciples were weighted down with this nature, too. They lugged its baggage around on their backs just like we do, ever aware of what they weren’t, what they hadn’t done, and worse, what they had done, all of which disqualified them for all-out love. When Jesus, the One they recognized as the Messiah, spoke of loving them with the same love with which his Father loved him, well, the words were an ink blot on their brains, incomprehensible, impossible. While they felt they were up for obeying any order, any direction, any command, that Jesus might give them, when the command given was to love each other deeply just as Jesus had loved them, they were instantly chagrined at the vastness of the task he was setting before them. As each of the men doubted their own personal lovability, loving this entire band with the quality and level of love of Jesus was beyond measurement, transcending their understanding. It was an extravagance of love they’d only ever experienced from Jesus! Would this be possible? What do you think? Is it possible today, for us? PD
Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection. 1 John 4:18, TPT.