Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Advent #3: God Invites Us into Love

As I've been writing and preaching, God's purpose in Creation was to invite us into his love: his intimate circle of sharing, adoration and eternal peace. Humans, having the power of choice, decided to choose the unhealthy and destructive attitude of self-will. Instead of staying in life and intimacy with God, they stepped into non-being. But not to worry, God already accounted for that potential choice, because included in the plan for creation, right from the start, was his miraculous Bridge between humans and God himself: that God would become flesh, entering the physical universe as one of us, uniting us to God, perfectly representing God to us and us to God.

But let's not mistake God's sovereign plan to redeem us, for some sort of legal transaction. This whole movement was out of love, from God to us in sheer self-giving, which is the heart of God. His rescue through Jesus was to lift us out of our misery and bring us to him and his love, and was all because of his love.

And in the midst of this great gift to us through Jesus, his love satisfied every needed element: every other 'theory" or picture of salvation, is all included in, and part of, and comes from, some aspect of God's love, which is the source of all good things -- even to people who don't know him. To help us understand this, let's think about a gift a husband may give his wife 'out of the blue.' If she tries to analyze whether he gave this gift because he's feeling guilty, or wants to her forgive him, or wants her to give him something in return, she misses seeing his action as simply from love, and won't be able to enjoy the gift. It's the same here: God's gift to us is because of love, and any other picture we may discern is secondary.

Does God have an ulterior motive in loving us? Is he trying to manipulate us into an action? Not really; except that because God is love (1 John 4:8), he yearns to have our love in return. If we decide not to love, that's up to us; but we're only hurting ourselves, because we're missing out on security, peace and acceptance better than we could ever find through any other relationship.

God loves you, plain and simple. Jesus -- in his taking on human flesh so he could go through a life of service to humanity, demonstrate the Father's love, die for us and be raised for us -- proves the Father's love completely. God could make no more dramatic move than giving his own Son for us.

When will you make your move to accept his gift, completely and without holding anything back?

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