God’s love for everyone in every circumstance is a favorite theme and passion in justifying all kinds of behavior. Indeed, as most agree, God does love everyone. After all, we need go no further than John 3:16-17 to grasp the idea of his love demonstrated by Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.
INHERENT IN THE idea of salvation is that we have to be “saved” from something. What is that? Most seem to think that it has much to do with the individual sins (small “s”) that plague our lives and cause so much division. Not so. Why, you say? How can that be?
It is because God did not intervene in the human condition for the purpose of parsing our behavior into good and bad as a means of identifying those He loves and those He does not. Restated, He loves us all. However, there is something that means everything to Him, and that is what separates those who find His grace and those who do not.
While many sins are identified throughout Scripture, their purpose is not selection but symptomatic. They identify behaviors that reveal our “heart condition” as surely as a fever identifies the presence of an illness.
So what does He want if not the eradication of our “sins”? Simply put, He is after our heart. He wants our heart because it represents the seat of control. As long as we hold on to self-determination (heart control), then God cannot work His will in our lives. This is and always has been the sin that separates us from the eternal, not temporal, love of God.
HE CANNOT BRING about in us the awareness of our separation from Him, and our need for regeneration, without being in control of our decision-making and our behavior. Does that mean that He wants to make robots of us? No. But He does want us to make decisions that reflect His divine plan for our lives and that demonstrate behavior that honors Him.
“Regeneration” is a powerful word, in that it reflects the action of a loving God making new His creation, with awareness that we are subject to His will, not ours. When this begins, we look, see and act in ways that honor Him, not us; we then embrace actions that will reflect changes over time as we allow Him (not us) to determine what is right and what is wrong in terms of our behavior. The Christian perspective, when applied in this way, reaches out to everyone, while honoring God but not embracing everything.
Importantly, it is never a point of pride, but always directing others, and us, toward the liberal (in the best sense) administration of God’s grace and mercy. There are no perfect Christians – just those who have released control and are attempting to live their faith according to God’s direction and plan.
ARGUE WITH THIS if you wish, but remember: As long as you insist on setting the bar, then you are holding the reins, not God. Our feelings, our ideas and our emotions are not relevant; obedience is all that He asks.
In searching the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, you will find that all God ever intended was to make His purpose known, as stated in John 3:16-17. At this season, embrace God’s perfect gift, Emmanuel, with us, and enjoy the real joy of life that is His abundant and unending grace.
(The writer, a U.S. Army veteran, is retired, formerly the chief information officer of University Health Care System in Augusta. He lives in Evans.)