DayBreaks for 2/01/17: Structured in Blood
I Peter 4:8 – Love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.
What is the very essence of the Christian faith? One could argue, convincingly, that it is the cross of Christ: his incarnation, sinless life, sacrificial death, and subsequent resurrection. Surely those are weighty things of great import that deserve our full and undivided attention. God forgive us if we neglect them! But I don’t believe that those things are the core of the Christian faith. Those things are effects of the core cause. The core cause, the fundamental element, behind all those things was the love of God for people – people like you and I, who get our lives all messed up and stained with sin, who spit in the face of His Son, lash him with scourges, and nail him to wood that he created for this very purpose. It was the love of God (John 3:16) that started the whole thing. Christianity is not a religion of hatred or judgment or anger – it is the purest love song ever sung.
The core cause, the fundamental element, behind all those things was the love of God for people – people like you and I, who get our lives all messed up and stained with sin, who spit in the face of His Son, lash him with scourges, and nail him to wood that he created for this very purpose. It was the love of God (John 3:16) that started the whole thing. Christianity is not a religion of hatred or judgment or anger – it is the purest love song ever sung.
In his book, The Importance of Being Foolish: Learning to Think Like Jesus, Brennan Manning wrote: “The axis of the Christian moral revolution is love (Jesus called it the sign by which the disciple would be recognized). The danger lurks in our subtle attempts to minimize, rationalize, and justify our moderation in this regard. Turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, offering no resistance to injury, being reconciled with one another, and forgiving seventy times seven times are not arbitrary whims of the Savior. He did NOT preface the Sermon on the Mount with, ‘It would be nice if..’ His “new” commandment structures the new covenant in his blood.”
Love. When you think about it, what enabled Christ to turn the other cheek? Love. What enables mere humans to do the same? Love. Why would anyone willingly walk an extra mile out of their way carrying the burden of others if not for love? Why would someone not respond to injury by fighting back? Because there is something greater at stake than a battle over some event or circumstance – there is a battle for the souls of mankind, prompted by love. What could cause reconciliation where there as been hurt? Only love. What enables someone to forgive their spouse or child 70 times 7? Surely, it is only love.
That’s why Jesus didn’t say it would be nice if we did those things, but left them optional. They are most definitely NOT optional for His children. For it is those very things that characterize the Father, and His children must be like Him. How important were those things? He wrote them in his blood.
We can also look at the flip side: what causes one not to turn the other cheek, walk the extra distance, hit back when hurt, refuse to be reconciled, refuse to forgive (as God through Christ has forgiven us)? One thing, and one thing only: a lack of God’s love in us and through us. Harboring smoldering resentments, sucking on the sour grape of bitterness, withholding full and complete forgiveness say as much about us as does the love that might cause us to do the opposite, and they reveal what is most cherished in our hearts – self-love, or God’s love.
PRAYER: Father, we need so much to truly learn to let your love come alive in us and to forgive and truly experience Your love within so that we can then love others in the same way. For all who wear Your name, but who haven’t experienced the true love that defines Your very nature, open our eyes and hearts to love as You do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.