Hey fellow believer, what do you say about the popular notion,
there is nothing I can do that would make God love me any more or any less
If I said that I believe that is a false statement, if only partly, I know some would fight me on it. Others might even say, “well, it’s been good while it lasted, Green P@stures, but this is where I get off.”
Christianity is filled with platitudes and proverbs that need holding up to the light of scripture.
The Jews of old loved the scriptures but if a rabbi taught something that extrapolated or bent their meaning, the people went with the rabbi’s interpretation. There are religions in the world that have a long-held tradition of canonizing their popes’ or imams’ word over against their holy books – the very teachings their faiths are founded upon.
Do we do it too?
What if I showed a scripture that (for me) clearly debunks the sentiment above? Jude, who kinda knew Messiah pretty well since they grew up together under the same roof, said, “keep yourselves in the love of God.” (v21) His own half-brother, of whom all the scriptures testify, said, “if you keep My commands, you will abide in My love.” (see John 15:9-10)
So there is a possibility that we can fall out of God’s favor?
What would Jesus say about our NOT keeping His commands? What would we abide in then?
Same thing? Really?
Now I’m not suggesting that we are going to have the rug of our salvation jerked out from beneath our feet when we screw up. Our standing as sons and daughters remains, but the issue of fellowship becomes a white elephant in the room.
Can we displease the Holy Spirit? Can we grieve* Him?
Are there scriptural accounts that we may reference where the Lord struck down a believer for lying to Him? Did Jesus rebuke his Twelve sharply on separate occasions? Is there a church whom Christ will vomit out of His mouth?
Do these references sound nice?
Far from what you’re thinking, no, I am most definitely not trying to paint our King as a mean-spirited, vindictive potentate who cannot wait to chew us up and spit us out. I have found a Father and Lover of my soul who craves my adoring and returns in exponential kind.
Sorry, but I don’t approach Him every day cowering and quaking. He is absolutely precious! Our relationship is everything to me and getting more personal and richer as I move along.
I am only concerned here with a draft of grace that is floating around that hates anything to do with effort**, repentance, or striving for holiness. Its appeal is to our modern penchant for self-idolization; for our embracing the lie that God exists only for our benefit, and is preoccupied with making me happy and feeling good about myself.
I’m not ashamed that of the beautiful things that are part of my love affair with Jesus, one of them is a healthy fear of displeasing Him. I don’t like it when I’m at odds with Sandy, when there’s knife-cutting-the-air tension between us. I despise the gulf that exists though the marriage bonds still hold strong. I love her way too much.
Should it be any less of a motivation with regard to my heart’s King?
To know that I can cause Him grief, and to make every effort to avoid doing that (though I fail often), is not legalism. It moves me to love Him more and enjoy Him more fully because He is worthy of my highest love. It is…a beautiful goad.***
Let us stop subscribing to sentiments because they sound good, look good on Facebook status’ and make us feel better about ourselves, but held up to the Light show signs of questionable origins (re: satan). And, while we’re at it, let’s not dismiss those “other” passages that should give us pause. In a good way.
That’s all I’m saying.
*The word ‘grief‘ found in Eph 4:30 is ‘lupeo’ and points to an intense pain inflicted upon by another. It means a “wounding.” It is not a quick snort of saying “good grief!” at someone’s ridiculousness, but a sharp and recurrent, debilitating pain; used of a woman in throes of childbirth, disciples vexed by prophecies of Messiah’s own death, and the rich young ruler who went away from Jesus in great emotional distress.
**Not self-effort, but those holy works we are re-created to do in the divine grace that empowers us.
***A “goad” is a catalyst, prod, incentive