I e-mailed this to my friends in my small group at church, and even though I know that most of my readers are those same friends, I’m posting it here anyway, because it’s what I’ve figured out about God [knowing full well that I’m not even close to seeing the full picture].
I rather suspect you guys have been praying for me, because last night I had a major breakthrough. It may be something that is a no-brainer for you, but it’s put everything into perspective for me, and I want to share it with you guys because I’m excited about it, and I love you.
The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was love.
[But Wait, There’s More!]
The point of God bringing the Law was to show us how to love Him, and each other.
After the fall, the people became confused and no longer knew how to love God or each other because of sin. And sin is just selfishness, in the sense of putting your own wants in front of others’ needs.
So God looked for someone who was seeking Him even though they didn’t know exactly where to look. First, he found Noah, then it was Abraham, and then He chose Moses to bring the ‘How To Love God and Each Other Manual’ to the people.
A few of them figured it out and were able to succeed a little. At certain times in the history of the Hebrews, the majority of the Jews at that time ‘got it’ for a while, and began to live out God’s purpose for them.
But mostly they failed.
God brought the Law to the people so they would know what to strive for, but also to point out that they could never do it consistently without His help.
Then He gave us Jesus, who had it all together from the beginning and was able to show us by example what perfect love looked like. When He said, “I came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.” He was saying that he came to give us the ability to take the Spirit of the Law [love] and live it out consistently.
In other words, He came for no other purpose than to give us the supernatural ability to Love God, Love Others, and even Love Ourselves.
Most other religions have some aspect of this truth in them. They strive for goodness and love and eliminating selfishness, and maybe they succeed part of the time. Maybe God honors the fact that they are genuinely seeking answers. Maybe He acknowledges their sincere hearts in some way, and maybe there is a place in heaven for them.
But [and this is the crux of what I’ve been trying to figure out] other religions may find pieces of the Truth, but Jesus gives us the ability to live out God’s love in supernatural proportions. He gives us the ability to experience the fullness of God. And that completeness is something you can’t have without Jesus.
Something else I was thinking about last night was the Pharisees. We always look down on the Pharisees because they missed the point, and because that ‘Holier Than Thou’ attitude pisses everybody off.
Last night, I realized that Jesus loved them too. Him yelling at them and calling them out in public was just one of the ways that he was trying to get through to them. In the gospels, we see times where he had dinner with the Pharisees. He hung out with them too, and was probably friends with a few of them. He didn’t just yell at them and call them names, he spoke with them in private, too.
I imagine there were times when he had intelligent, productive, civil conversations with them. Especially in private because there wasn’t a ‘public image’ for the Pharisees to uphold. He was able to teach them one on one, but when they were all together, in public, their attitude problem came to the forefront, and that’s when he had to bring ’em down a notch.
I think he yelled at them for the sakes of the general public who had been taught to look up to the Pharisees, but also to show the Pharisees that they weren’t fooling God with their ‘acts of righteousness,’ and that they were missing the point.
I think he did it out of love for them, and his hope in rebuking them publicly was that maybe one of them would look at him and think, “Is this the same guy I had dinner with last night? We had a good talk last night. I kind of like him. It matters to me what he thinks of me. Is what I’m doing here wrong?”
I think that truth spoke to them and they had to choose whether to change their attitude or whether to ‘kill the messenger,’ because when he yelled at them, it hurt. When you get hurt, you either accept the pain, or you get pissed off and try to hurt back.
Most of the Pharisees got mad and closed their hearts to his message. It was too hard for them to change. But a few became his followers.
But that made me think of something else. Jesus saw the Pharisees for the hypocrites that most of them were, but he still loved them. And I don’t think he yelled at them with the intent to humiliate them.
His motive was love. He knew that the only thing left for him to do [after relating with them in private, after developing a relationship with them] to try to make them see the light was to expose their hearts to them in front of everyone else.
But, Jesus had an advantage that we don’t. He could see the sincere heart. He could look past a person’s actions and know that they were trying [I think making the effort and never giving up matters more to God than results].
He knows when a person’s motive is to exalt themselves. And he knows when their actions look like they’re trying to exalt themselves but their true motive is to exalt God.
We can’t see inside a person’s heart. It’s hard to see inside our own motives sometimes, what makes us think we can look at someone’s actions and judge their motives?
I think that’s what it means when it says “don’t judge,” because all we can see is the outside of people.
Which brings up one last thing, I promise. When we see sin in others, maybe the way we should point it out to them isn’t, “What you are doing is a sin against God.” Maybe we should bring up the behavior and ask them how what they are doing is affecting those around them. Specifically the people they love most.
If we can get the focus off, “This is what I want or need.” and put it on, “This is what satisfying my want/need will do to my loved ones.” Maybe people will be more willing to change. It forces them to see that the real choice is whether they show their love for others through doing the right thing, or whether they show by their actions that they really don’t love others as much as they think.
It’s all about love. That’s why I choose Christ, because he supernaturally enables me to love God, love others, and love myself above and beyond what I can dream or imagine. That’s what holiness is: Unconditional love.
I don’t know about you guys, but that’s pretty exciting to me!
There is hope for me after all.
Thanks for listening, guys. Writing this stuff down has helped me immensely. Let me know if you think I’m full of shit, okay?