What happens when we stay tucked into our familiar comfort-zones, the places and people that look and sound and feel most like us?
For one, we can stop growing; if we’re not being pushed outside what’s comfortable, we have a tendency towards stagnation. We can also stop seeing the forest and only see the leafless and wilting branches, nit-picking the theology and practices of those whom we claim as spiritual family. Or like an inverted nautilus, we can wind more tightly into our own ideas so that our theology begins to more closely resemble the body which developed it than God himself. This final tendency being perhaps the most dangerous of all.
There is, within contemporary Western Christianity a fascination with Love. With Jesus as not so much as prophet or good-guy-who-had-some-radical-ideas, rather, with Jesus as the ultimate embodiment of Love. And only Love. As if the totality of the Divinity of Christ could be so succinctly summed up: Love, and nothing more.
Yes, God is Love. Yes, Christ did die for Love. And, yes, it is by our Love that followers of Jesus will be known.
Yet we mustn’t forget from whence that very Love comes. This Love can only come from God: the God of the New and Old Testaments. The God of Christians and the Israelites. The God of Love and the God of the Law. Glennon Melton’s assertion, in her most recent post at Momastery, that Love trumps the Law, due to Jesus’ seeming flouting thereof as “Sinny McSinnerton”, is a back-handed rejection of the God from whither the Law first came. It is the repudiation of Christ’s assertion that He came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. It is the narrow-minded, Western, one-quarter-world view that all we need is Love.
What about Justice? What about Righteousness? What about Holiness?
Where do those fit in with the nothing-but-Love paradigm that is so flagrant and prolific and, frankly, seductive in our seeker-driven worship? Because if Jesus (and thus by extension, God Himself) is only Love, then my sins are of no consequence. My lifestyle, my choices, my actions are meaningless; because by golly, Jesus loves me. And so long as I in turn love everybody else, all will be right with the world.
But if my sins (and by extension, the sins of everyone else) are of no consequence, then why did Jesus have to die? Why kill Love?
I maintain that Jesus had to die, because my sins (and yours and those of every other person ever to live) do matter. Because my actions, my lifestyle, my human-ness and my very propensity towards sin twists and perverts everything about me and God’s creation, Jesus had to die to fix it. To redeem it, to yank creation and me back from evil, and say, “Oh, no you don’t; this is mine!”
Therefore, Christ wasn’t just a guy who loved people radically. Yes, He did that. But he was also the foretold Messiah, the Savior of the world. He wasn’t merely a revolutionary who was also an outcast who loved other outcasts really well. Yeah, he did that, too. But the Divine-Incarnate Jesus, as Mrs. Melton posits in her article, could not have come today, or ever, as a black, lesbian teenager. I do not say this because I agree with John Piper’s teaching that God is inherently masculine, and NOT because I believe Jesus hates anyone because their sexual orientation (I very, very firmly believe that God so loved the entire world—every person of every race and gender and age and worldview—that he gave his only Son not to condemn the world, but to save it; so that all who believe in Christ will not perish but have eternal life); but I say this because Jesus had to be who he was in order to fulfill the prophecies proclaimed about him in the centuries preceding his incarnation. Jesus was exactly who he was supposed to be. And he walked the earth at exactly the time he was supposed to walk it.
When we forgot or purposely neglect this, we have in essence forgotten the God who sent his Son to die in our place. We make the Son greater than the Father. We bend the Divine human to fit our worldly human desires. We create a god who looks more like we want him to look than he actually does.
Had Jesus been anything else other than a 1st century Palestinian Jew, his very existence would have made God a liar.
And you can call me a stuffy, old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy [or you can pick from other, more colorful pejoratives should you chose; trust me, I’ve both heard and used them before,] Christian. But I have a knee-jerk reaction when anything we posit about God could be construed in such a way as to make him a liar. Because doing so makes him not God. And if he’s not God, then from whom was Jesus sent, and whose kingdom are we proclaiming? A god of our own making?
Or the Lord God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all that seen and unseen, whose thoughts are not human thoughts, and whose ways are not humanity’s ways?
Then ask yourself: Upon which would you stake eternity?
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
A. W. Tozer