I laugh to myself now when people say that the “already included” news that I like to share means that I am saying God doesn’t “punish” people. I am coming to the conclusion that punishment is an easier somewhat-lazy way of addressing interpersonal conflict. It is a much taller order to hold a person in such high value as to come alongside them and restore them without losing yourself in the process. To sacrificially, generously, sincerely give what you have to give in the healthiest sense.
No longer can I barge into every relationship resting on the supposed safety of whatever illusion of control I think I have in the situation. “Off with their heads” if I am feeling like I have enough. Or paralyzed by fear if I feel outnumbered.
Now the world is no longer cut and dry, black or white, in or out, etc. The letter of the law is significant, but I now see more the importance of the spirit and the heart of instruction. Didn’t Jesus say basically the same when He summed up all in loving God, ourselves, and each other?
Law only asks, “What is legal?”
Love asks other questions such as, “What is best for all involved?”
Law says, “What can I get away with?”
Love says, “How have I been uniquely empowered and emboldened by The Trinity to express God’s heart in this situation?” This can look as simple as making room for someone to safely merge in front of me in traffic. Or it can look like choosing not to allow my ego to be offended by another’s ignorance. Or it can reach so far as to open our hearts to orphans, fight for those who are unable, use our energy and individual talents to solve worldwide problems that initially appear as economic opportunities, and endless other shades of love.
Law cuts off the nose to spite the face.
Love says not one little lamb, even the injured smelly rebellious lamb, is an acceptable casualty.
Law keeps score.
Love says I don’t win if it’s at your expense. Yet, love sometimes means telling you no and not giving you what you want.
This “already included” news has changed everything for me. My political views, my financial goals, my relationship approaches, etc. In fact, I am reeling. So many decades in and I feel like I am starting completely over again. Ashamed because those I preached AT in the past, those that wouldn’t go near a church, are light years ahead of me in living out what I was so sure I had been studying all this time.
My world is shaken. I do not have a formula anymore. This new life, this real life, resists every attempt at being cordoned off to an intellectual exercise. And didn’t our beloved Jesus show us this from the beginning? By His example, He prepared us for the beautifully messy experience of risking to dive deep and embrace this existence from our hearts. As it was always intended.
Whew! God help me.
(J, you would be so proud of me. Eh? 🙂 )