The last few posts have scraped back a lot of my confusion in this “unconditional love” stuff – this “forgiven by grace” chant – this “a sinner saved” piousness – this “our Living Lord” theme … all the jargon and church-speak we repeat week after week, day after day. I have a deep-rooted sense of a “gap” between that and “reality”.
“So I have come to the conclusion that inclusion does not mean “endorsement” – that inclusion means “love”. And that the person we created has all the choices I want for them (and – unfortunately – also in those areas that I would prefer they didn’t!)”
And when something BIG happens, I find myself running back to GSHJ asking “Am I seeing right?” So I came to today’s verses with a question for my God: “Have you shown me something you have not shown me before?” And He said “Yes. Because you have never seen it before.”
He has scraped back another layer – I am seeing that my “love for others” is (almost always) cleaved to my “endorsement” of my “act of love” – and that is the same as my approval (both sought and given).
I have seen that my “unconditional love” is VERY “conditional”!
“Jesus said to the crowds, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.”” Matthew 5:38-42
“Paul, when you read these verses (and every other verse in “the bible”), are you “programmed” to check if you can/have/will “endorse” your own beliefs … your own “corporate beliefs” … your own taught beliefs … your experienced beliefs … your cultural beliefs …? Do you “check” your version of Me … both your public (and private) “God” image you see me being … your deep down instinctive spiritual “Me” ….?
Or do you love without any of that? Do you love without condition?”
(it has taken me decades for me to see this distinction – so please forgive me if I go a tad “OTT” here)
Do I – am I even able to – distinguish between love and endorsement? Have I been so thoroughly taught by my “living” that I can only love someone if that public/private act “endorses me”, and them, each time? Does me “loving someone” really mean that “I approve of you” – of “your” behaviour – of “my” choice to be seen to approve of you? Do I default to how “my” reflection is tarnished/polished by my acceptance/rejection and how that affects my sub-conscious approval rating?
And now … transfer all of that to being “A Good Christian” …
Because I wonder this morning … is being a “Comfortable Christian” less the point to a slowly dying western church institution … than being an active and dynamic “Political Candidate Christian”?
Do I – without any awareness – seek approval ratings? Do I instinctively amend and blend my beliefs and behaviours to “win”? Do I learn through teaching and cultural osmosis what I need to do “to win”? And just what is it (if I am on to something here) that I sub-consciously think that I am “winning”? And is being a “comfortable Christian” the product of all of that? And are we – am I – that transparent?
Because “winning” has nothing to do with Love – not even Love Without Condition. It can’t – so it never ever will. Simply because “winning” means “losing”. And that is wrapped up measuring “my return on my investment”. Which means that winning and my “approval rating” here on earth are also wrapped-up. And that cannot be divorced from my (self-assessed) approval rating from God. My endorsement from my God.
All of which sounds exactly like those “Pantomime Baddies” we still like to call the “Pharisees and scribes”. And whenever I hear my God speak like this, I am always asked the question: “Is This Biblically and Scripturally Correct?”
Well reading today’s verses I notice two words: “Jesus said“.
“Biblically and Scripturally Correct”?
I never see GSHJ measuring how much is enough. I never see God (or Jesus or The Holy Spirit) ever looking for “endorsement”. And I never – EVER – see GSHJ being confused about my subtle difference between “endorsement” and “love”.
So when I do – when we do …. just how can I/we ever be biblically and scripturally correct – just how can I/we ever “know God” … ?
And just how can I allow others to “know God”?