In last week’s post I explored how even though Christians are supposed to be marked by love for others, that doesn’t mean we agree with everyone on everything. I also addressed the common misconception that Jesus didn’t have any standards and that if modern Christians have standards or opinions they aren’t being like Jesus.
This often leads to the comment that God must just be waiting for people to miss the mark so that he can then have an excuse to smite us or be some sort of divine party pooper stopping us from having any fun.
I completely disagree with that because God’s rep, Jesus, said completely differently. Here’s two one liners from him:
“For God did not send His Son (that’s Jesus…) into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
In summary, Jesus says his aim is to rescue not condemn, and liberate not ruin.
God’s not waiting with the smite button or a sharp pointy stick. He’s already been on his rescue mission and paved the way for salvation. To envisage God in any other way is to completely misunderstand his character.
Right after the ancient Jews escaped from Egypt, God took them to Mount Sinai, where Moses received the 10 Commandments. It was during these early days of the Jews’ history that God had to tell these people (his people) who he was and what he was like. How else would they know?
He tells the Jews this about his character:
“The Lord passed before (Moses) and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’”
In other words, God’s got standards – but he holds back from punishment as long as he possibly can. There are consequences for ignoring him but they come slowly. He is slow to anger and abounding in love.
Abounding is a great word. Especially if it’s followed by the word love.
That’s what God is like. Abounding in love. Not abounding in smite. Slow to anger. Not quick to judge.
Sure, he’s got standards but he forgives. He forgives iniquity and transgression and sin…
That sounds like an unholy trinity. Yet it’s as though God is saying whatever flaw you’ve got is fine. He’s got it covered. Iniquity and transgression and sin… a package deal of misdemeanours. Gone.
Still there’s plenty of people who’d say – “That’s nice, but I don’t want to live by his standards.” Granted; that’s a perspective held by many.
But the Biblical perspective is that what we think is freedom (ignoring God) is actually incarceration. Many people who become Christians later in life say that they looked for liberty and a good time in a whole pile of things before they changed their mind and realised that God’s way was actually a freedom they never knew before and never thought was possible.
That of course is the perspective of some. Each person has to explore it for themselves. Probably the best place to start the exploration is by going back to Jesus’ words: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
Is that what you’ve got? Are you living “life to the full”? If not, Jesus has some suggestions… why not have a read of them?
Yours in having life to the full,