Tuesday, January 13, 2015

God Loves YOU!

It's the second Tuesday of 2015, and time for my second thought on what makes the path to following Jesus such a #NarrowRoad. Today, we are going to look at some really horrible theology that plagues the 21st century western church. This past weekend our pastor, Matthew Hartsfield, pointed out that on too many Sundays in too many churches the sermon says something like this: God is good. You are not. Try harder.

This teaches us that when we sin, we can fix it. If we will just read more, study more, pray more, attend church more, serve more and give more then we will sin less. WE are the ones with the power to pull ourselves out of the messes we get into- all we have to do is DO more for God. Love God more and behave better and we can do anything. It is a theology that reinforces the concept that the things we don't do, the sins we avoid, are what makes u better Christians. We have heard so often for so long that it sounds correct. But the truth is we often miss the narrow road because we become convinced we can navigate it ourselves. If that were true then Jesus came for no real reason. 

Last week I wrote about loving God and loving others as the true narrow road, a path that is much tougher than the "thous shalt nots" so many of us adhere to. And Jesus did say that was the greatest commandment. But before we have any chance of actually doing those things with any true success, there is a first step. We have to believe that God loved us first. Everything else we believe and everything else we do must flow from that knowledge. Check out this scripture from 1 John 4:9-10:  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. And this one from 1 John 4:19 - We love each other because God loved us first. Any love we have, any good we do comes from a source. And that source is the love of God for us. It's unconditional, it's never-failing, and it is so very real.

I don't know any Christ -followers who cannot recite John 3:16. But do we really believe that God so loved US- me & you- that he sent Jesus to die on a cross that we might live in harmony with God despite our human failings and faults? God loves YOU! 

I have written here many times that we complicate our spiritual journey and lose sight of the narrow road because we too often put theology before Jesus. I have also suggested before my feelings that the only theology we really need is this- "Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so." This past Sunday we ended worship by taking Holy Communion- a reminder of just how much God loves us- and singing that song. The narrow road is not about us. The narrow road should be reminder that God loves us so much that he pulls us from the muck and mire of our failures and sins and dusts us off and then loves us even more. That's grace. And scripturally speaking, grace is not a theological concept. It's a person. The love of God whose name is Jesus is our guide on the #NarrowRoad. And to quote C.S. Lewis, "He's not safe. But he's good." To know the love of God and then love like Jesus is a wild ride. Remember that dangerous love...and follow the leader down the narrow path to the abundant life.

Because of Jesus,

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