“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Friday, June 26, 2020

LOVE WILL ULTIMATELY PREVAIL

Have you ever wondered why God put His precious gift of life in such frail packaging? If life is so precious and sacred—as the Scriptures proclaim—then why did God place it in bodies of flesh and bone? Skin and flesh tear and bleed; bones and hearts break.

Why didn't God encase His precious gift of life in bodies as tough as granite and the human psyche safely guarded as though behind some mighty fortress? Such thoughts occasionally rise within me from a desire to protect loved-ones from life's pains and sorrows.

After all, there would be no need to wipe away tears if none are shed. But then, consider that humans encased in bodies like granite, and hearts like stone, would be of no use to God or man. Granite is impenetrable. Hearts of stone would never ache, break or melt.

After more than 36 years of chronic illness (multiple sclerosis) I have come to the conclusion that our time on earth is for spiritual growth, not mere survival.  The Scriptures tell us that God is love (1John 4.8). A God of love must have something to give his love to and humanity is the object of his love. We know this because, as far as we can tell, humanity is the only thing in creation to bear the indelible image of God (Genesis 1.26-27). A God of love must surely want to be loved in return. A central part of genuine love is that it is given freely to the loved. 

Love is a choice
Real love is a choice, an act of the will. That is what makes love such a high ask proposition. As soon as there are choices, there's a risk of the loved making the wrong choice. The risks of love are horribly high for both God and humanity. But the prospect of living in a loveless world is unthinkable!

When God created human free will, He knew his love might not be returned. People may choose to love the world rather than the Creator of it. When our Lord said, "For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart" He was challenging human priorities and loyalties (Matthew 6.21). Christ was laying out a stark choice for humanity: Either love God and the permanent things of heaven (yet unseen) or the temporary things of earth. Our first love and priority can be to seek "treasures on earth" (to use Christ's words) or "treasures in heaven."  Jesus spoke of them as two mutually exclusive masters of the heart. "No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You can not serve God and mammon." (verse 24.)

Mammon is an Aramaic word meaning wealth or property. But it can also symbolize anything temporal and fleeting such as youth, beauty, health or social status.

To choose anything over God is to rebuff his love. Love spurned is a terrible thing. To love without reciprocation is bitter. Divine overtures rejected, despised or mocked must be unbearably painful to the heart of God.  I suppose He could have made us without the capacity to decide and programmed us like robots to drone his praises. But that would hardly be love returned, it would hardly be a love worth having.

Jesus said He would rather have people who are hot or cold toward Him, not lukewarm (Revelation 3.14-16). A heart animated with love or hate is still human; a heart dead with indifference may as well be made of granite. Indifference to the love of God is worse than cursing him!

Love is vulnerable
God made himself vulnerable for the sake of loving and being loved. Why should we expect anything else? To love is to be vulnerable. It goes both ways. Hearts of stone and souls in fortresses would not be protected from risks and buffeting of life, they would be prevented from truly living! Is that what I should want for my loved-ones in order to save them from pain or sorrow?

Vulnerable people give, accept and radiate love best.

I wrote earlier that I have come to the conclusion that the purpose of our time on earth is spiritual growth, not mere survival. This is what I meant: We only have a short time to learn and grow in reciprocal love (both human and divine). God's model for love encourages interdependence not independence.  We were designed to live in communities not fortresses. At the very beginning of creation, the Creator said, "It is not good for man to live alone." (Genesis 2.18).

Made for relationships
We are designed for relationships. Granted, you may find the odd recluse who prefers life as a hermit, but they are the exceptions to the rule. No! They are the exceptions that prove the rule! Fortresses separate and isolate. Granite is cold and hard. 

People live best in the warmth and welcome of interdependent communities that encourage reciprocal love. Love makes human beings vulnerable and fragile—it also gives meaning to life.

Despite the present violence we see each night on television, I still believe that God's divine love will prevail. That's the treasure in heaven about which Jesus spoke. 

MDP

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