God, by definition, is Infinite and Perfect. It is amusing, then, when finite, imperfect humans – which includes you and I – assert God is on their side unless what God has to say about it differs with their wants and wishes.
Then God is
- imperfect (in their image)
- not really God
- whatever else conveniently comes to mind
I just read a beautifully-penetrating statement sent me by a friend. Read and consider:
“I don’t think love just tolerates, I think it embraces fully, no strings attached…. I pray your heart gets broken, too. Sometimes it’s the only way we learn how to love.”
When reading, I tend to reread, taking time to think and absorb, to “look at it through the other person’s eyes” between each reading. I did not ask permission to identify the writer, so I’ll depend on my friend to transmit my thoughts and where my heart is.
“I don’t think love just tolerates, I think it embraces fully, no strings attached” is powerful. To this I add that God is love. He defines unconditional, no-strings-attached love. In other words, to fully understand the impact of the writer’s statement, we must include God in it. To attempt to keep Him somehow out of any discussion of Love is to emasculate its meaning. He is Love’s architect and artist.
If God merely tolerated us when we got impudent with Him, stomping our feet and yelling, “NO!” or “I HATE YOU!”, Jesus being impaled on a Roman cross would never have been necessary. Maybe a time-out chair, or no Game of Thrones or No Man’s Sky for the weekend. But the whole gory, exposed-ribs, stinky death thing?
We’ve all been shopping in Wallyworld when an apprentice demon disguised as an 8-year-old boy wants that SuperSoaker CPS2000. Mom says no. What follows sounds like a collision between a freight train and a garbage truck carrying leftover overheated fireworks.
One of two things occurs.
- The enlightened and progressive mother responds in measured, sweet tones, “Honey, we negotiated before we came in the store, remember? Can we go pick up the two bicycles you knocked over, the display endcap you tipped and strewed all over the floor, and go tell a store employee with the blue apron on that we accidentally broke some glass and spilled carwash soap on the floor?” That is all being said while A. D. is making another tornadic lap through the automotive section, mom following behind, ducking the occasional thrown object, gently reasoning: “Now, sweetie, we talked about this . . .” This is tolerance in action.
- Mom latches onto A. D., leaving cart and goods where they are, and the two disappear out the nearest door. From their closed vehicle is heard sounds making anyone nearby strangely think of the 7 bowls of God’s wrath in Revelation. When the doors open, A. D. has been transformed into a quietly respectful, sniffling young man who walks deferentially a half-step behind his taut-jawed mother. As they enter, she looks down, rests a hand on his shoulder and asks, “How about some Dew?” This is unconditional love in action.
God didn’t hold anything back when He showed His unconditional love for you and me. From the cross, Jesus never said, “Father, forgive most of them–but these people? Nah, they’re toast.”
It’s how He is able to say in Romans, through Paul, that absolutely nothing, no outside person nor force can separate you and me from God’s love. It’s also how He can say throughout both Old and New Testaments that because this thing between Him and us is first a relationship, we can choose to tell Him to take a hike and turn our back on Him, His Word and His people, just as we can choose to embrace His teaching and walk with Him.
It is through unconditional love that God can say, “Nothing you do or say will ever make Me love you less; and because I love you with a perfect love, I will let you walk away from Me though it breaks My heart to see you go.”
I’ll think about this more in Vol. 2.
© D. Dean Boone, June 2015