Saturday, January 5, 2013

God is...

     "God is love." I have come to roll my eyes and inwardly groan when I hear those words. My thoughts jump to, "Yes, He is love, but He is also justice and holiness and righteousness. Just because He is loving does not mean He will allow you to get away with whatever you want." Cotton-candy theology that paints God as an indulgent grandfather gets under my skin.

     But here's the thing; God IS love. Just because He is just and holy and right does not mean that He is not also loving. This perfect balance between God's love and His justice is so hard for humanity to understand, and even harder to live out. Christians are to be imitators of Christ, which means we are called to balance love and righteousness just as He does.

     There are so many ways I have been stretched over the past six or seven months. So many emotions that I have dealt with. What I'm finding is that God has done a more intense surgery on me than any doctor. Today, He is cutting away things about me that are unloving.

     I have hidden behind justice and righteousness. I have been haughty and prideful. I have judged the lost for being lost. I have been selfish, not willing to suffer a chance of emotional pain, though my Savior suffered so much for me. 1 Peter tells us to be prepared for persecution and suffering, and I have not. In the process of protecting myself from pain, I have become cold and resentful toward those who have hurt me. This is not the spirit of Christ. It is not being a reflection of Him. It is not being a light for the no way will this attitude draw others to Him. Lord, forgive me! Soften my heart, give me wisdom.

(1Co 13:1) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

      All of the times I have taught the word of God, while bitterness was in my heart...Lord, I confess my useless noise.

(1Co 13:2) And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

      I have proclaimed Your power to heal, but have allowed rifts to remain in relationships around me. Lord, I am so sorry for mocking You in this way.

(1Co 13:3) If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

     I have given time and resources to people around me, opened my home and heart to many strangers but not welcomed family who I felt had personally wronged me. Instead of enduring with meekness and gentleness, I kept away from people. Thank You, Lord, for showing me how wrong I have been!

(1Co 13:4-5) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

      Resentment has been in my heart for years. Thank You for softening me, for breaking me, for giving me Your love. I know these changes are not from my own desire to be good. My desires have been self-protecting and arrogant. Thank You for Your faithfulness to complete the good works that you begin in me. Thank You for molding me, bringing me closer to You, for chastising me.

(1Co 13:6) it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

      I DO rejoice with truth. I desire to tell others of Your holiness and righteousness and justice. Continue to show me that these things are to be done in a loving way. Not to make others hopeless, but to point them to their need for You.  Those who are lost are condemned already and adding my personal judgement will not save them.  Instead, they need to see that though Your justice demands payment, Your love has provided that payment already.  Make me approachable, not condemning.

(1Co 13:7) Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

     Help me to endure suffering as You did. Remind me of Your sacrifice; compared to that, my disappointments are so small!

(1Co 13:8-10) Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

     The things of this world are so fleeting. Help me to set my heart on the eternal.

(1Co 13:11) When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

     Lord, mature me!

(1Co 13:12-13) For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.