I Believe God Is Love
If I am a fundamentalist about anything, it is about the love of God.
If I take a hard stance on anything than it is the gospel of grace.
If I take anything literally, than it is that god loves you just as you are but way too much to leave that way.
I take literally that God loves everyone that no one is outside the Provence of God’s love.
When I read in the New Testament that God loved you first I accept it as the sheer truth.
In nearly every one of my blogs, I say God loves you and that we should love others too. I have joked that I am the love theologian. I have a solid theology of love based on both scripture and personal experience.
My heart breaks every time I see The Humane Society commercial that shows images of dogs and other animals shaking in fear and pain. If the central tenet of the universe is God is love and loves without limit, we shouldn’t treat his glorious creatures with such disregard. I want to help. I want to protect and defend these creatures. I want this because I know God first loved me first that compels me to love others.
Sometimes I feel like the lead character in Quantum Leap TV series not righting wrongs as much as spreading the good news that God has already done exactly that in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Reading Rob Bell, Robert Farrar Capon, Brennan Manning, Mirabai Starr, Anthony De Mello, Henri Nouwen among others does not help. It makes it worse… or better, depending on your perspective. They have taught me that God’s love wins, is awesome, amazing, incredible, unconditional, limitless, vulgar, transformative, and real.
I don’t mean to sound arrogant or full of myself when I say God loves you! I don’t mean to pronounce absoluteness by saying God loves all that all are forgiven that all are included in Gods embrace. I don’t mean to short circuit anyone’s seeking God or journey to the Kingdom. Yet, I feel compelled to spread the news that salvation redemption liberation is already yours in Christ.
I need to have more confidence in my own salvation. I need to more fully trust that Jesus has, is, and will bring me home. I need to more fully trust that I am, have been, and will be saved, graced, and blessed by God. Not only do I need more confidence and trust, I need to more fully form my life around and live out God’s awesome, boundless, and real love. More than trust, confidence, forming my life around, and living out God’s love in my life, I need to spread the good news that God loves all just as they are but way more than that. People need to know that God’s grace embraces all, welcomes all, and redeems all no strings attached.
Today, I was told that the gospel of grace, the ideas I wrote in my recent blogs are all manmade philosophies. This person argued that forgiveness existed prior to the coming of Jesus. It did. Yet, Paul argues that the rock that Moses strikes to spill forth water for the Israelites is Christ. Christ as part of the Trinity has existed before the coming of Jesus. As John’s gospel begins with: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is the word of God. Jesus is the fullest, deepest, most beautiful expression and manifestation of God. Jesus is God. Through Jesus, the fullest and deepest representation of God’s love is made visible. Jesus came to make a way for all of humanity all of creation to be reconciled to God. In Christ, we are mysteriously saved, graced, and blessed. Jesus heals, liberates, and heals all. Jesus makes us worthy to come before God. The gospel of grace is God’s truth says that we justified by faith in grace alone. The entire New Testament and the protestant reformation relays on the truth of grace.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. Upon finding the lost sheep, the man calls everyone together to rejoice. The same thing happens with the lost coin and lost son. These three parables show us how God sees and embraces the lost that are found. With the lost son, the father doesn’t wait for the son to plead his case and refuses to listen to his apology instead he throws a party. That is grace. Grace is when we are still far off God runs to us and embraces us even before we can say anything. Grace welcomes the lost without any strings attached. The sinner’s prayer is not needed to experience and respond to God’s unbelievable grace that is already ours even if we don’t know it. God’s grace is sufficient.
Jesus says, “I tell you there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)
This is how Eugene Peterson translates that same line in The Message: there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.
As Robert Farrar Capon writes, “The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace – of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel – after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps – suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started… Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”
Capon, Bell, Manning and others write, teach, and preach that it only through and by Jesus that we are forgiven and made whole. If you don’t believe this that is fine, you are free not to believe it. If you believe that you can make yourself whole and earn God’s forgiveness fine. You are more than free to believe this. Yet, I know I need Jesus. I need a savior. On my own, I cannot and never will make it. I am glad that Jesus has made a way for me and others, for everyone to live in the Kingdom now and later to live life to the full and inherit eternal life.
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