Can I be honest?
I am scared of loving too much.
I am scared of being lavish with my love.
I am reserved with how I extend grace.
I want people to get their act together before I keep loving them.
But the Gospel doesn’t leave room for that kind of thinking.
God’s love is reckless compared to our love.
God’s love comes when we think it shouldn’t come.
God’s love pursues when we think we should turn our backs.
God’s love forgives when we think we should condemn.
Let's face it; the love of God just isn't the love we have.
(And Hallelujah for that!)
If you and I call ourselves people of Jesus, people shaped deeply by the Gospel, then we must, above everything else, be known for loving when it doesn’t make sense. We must be marked by a love that doesn’t seem right, fair, safe, logical, deserved or possible. We must, as God so charges us to do, love others as He has loved us.
I can already feel the tension...
What if that kind of love enables them in their sin?
What if that kind of love sends a message that they can keep screwing up?
What if that kind of love makes them think they don’t have to change?
I hear you, trust me.
Yet, the compulsion we should have to love people in their sin should far outweigh the possible messy and not ideal outcomes and responses (that's if we want to love like God loves us).
It’s just not ours to worry about.
Gospel love that is given when undeserved and unearned, the love that pursues when it should rightly turn away, has a way of softening and changing hearts more than we think withholding such love does.
That is why Paul writes that it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Sure, there is a time and place for sharp rebukes and bold exhortations. This type of love does not negate seeing sin for what it is and calling for obedience. Yet there is something you must know about this reality in Romans 2:4...
It's not just because God is kind that sinners are driven to turn away from sin and toward Him. It's more specific. It's precisely and absolutely because He is kind when we don't deserve kindness -- it's precisely and absolutely because He is kind when we deserve wrath. In other words, it's not just God's generic kindness that leads us to repentance; it's the awareness and belief of God's undeserved and unearned kindness directed toward us that creates the heart-level change!
This is why John writes that “whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love fo God is perfected” (1 John 2:5). It seems as if John is saying that the outrageously scandalous love of God does not, when it’s rightly understood and believed, cause someone to stay in their sin, but rather flee from it and walk in a way that pleases God. John is saying that when God's love is received properly and fully, obedience, not a license to sin, is the fruit and right response.
It all comes back to what you think the Gospel is.
You see, at the heart of the Gospel is a good and holy God loving sinners while they were spiritually lifeless. Unfortunately, I think we have a tendency to tweak the Gospel to be that a good and holy God loved sinners while they we’re getting their act together — and that, my friends, is a lie from the pit of hell, and destroys our ability to love like God.
As long as we continue to believe that we had (and still have) a part to play in earning God’s love, we will continue to demand and pressure others to earn ours as well.
If you and I want to have any hope of loving people like we have been loved by God and seeing sinners and beaten down saints refreshed and turned upside down by the Gospel, then we must slow down enough to wrestle with God's love toward ourselves. We must, eventually (and continually) throw down our trophies, gold stars and crowns (and failures for that matter) and say with the chorus of saints that have gone before us and are now at the feet of Jesus - "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb" (Revelation 7:10)!
As we rest in His undeserving love towards us may we extend that love to others! It's not fair - and it's not suppose to be.