‘If God is Love’ #3

We continued our study of If God Is Love this past weekend. The topic was graciousness and how we should be gracious in the home and in the world. The author states that if we truly believe that God is loving and gracious, then we will, in turn, become more gracious and loving of those around us.

He writes about how many men can recite verses in the Bible that instruct women to be subjective to their husbands, but most do not bother with the verse that commands men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. He explains that believing God is loving will force us to become more loving in our relationships with our partners and our children.

The most difficult part of this week’s reading for me was the section dealing with graciousness in the workplace. While I am usually a very easy-going person, there are times when those that I work with are more than trying. I’m not sure how to apply gracious behavior to some of the things that I encounter during my day.

A perfect example – yesterday I was informed that a few of my coworkers have been telling others that I attend a “gay” church and that they didn’t even see the point of me going to church if it’s populated with homosexuals. While it is far from the truth, the ignorance embodied in that rumor makes it difficult for me to address it with compassion and grace. I realize that a loving response might be more influential than an angry one, but I do feel that there are times when a “righteous” indignation might be in order.

A few of my favorite lines from this reading:

Altering my theology was as unsettling as any change in my life.

In the end, my first challenge is to allow God’s unfailing grace to change my daily life.

There will always be marriages worse than ours. I was hoping for something better.

God has no grandchildren.

I don’t think God cares about who you love as long as you love somebody.

Growing up, I was asked repeatedly, “If you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?” I was never asked, “If you live tomorrow, what kind of life will it be?”

To be full of the Spirit is to have your heart broken by the things that break the heart of God.

Instead of being encouraged to produce fruit, we’ve been trained to be fruit inspectors.

Here are the questions that we pondered this week:

How would your relationship with God by different if you sincerely believed God’s principle interest was in you and loving you, rather than whether you were adhering to God’s expectations and laws? How would this influence your relationship with others?

I would be more at peace in my relationship with God and would have much less fear about the future or the afterlife. This might allow me to see those around me a little differently, since I would be aware that God loves and accepts them as they are, even if that isn’t want I think they should be.

“Grace begins at home,” the authors assert on page 95. In what ways do you find this to be true? In what ways do you wish it were more fully so?

The state of our relationships at home will have an effect on everything we do and everyone we interact with. Problems at home will always spill over into everyday life, so it makes sense that we need to keep that part of our lives in order. The best way to do that is to be gracious enough to consider our partners as equal to ourselves and to show them the love and respect that they deserve.

Have you ever had someone try to save your eternal soul? What was it like? Compare this experience with someone whose desire it was not to convert you, but simply to share God’s love with you.

Many times. In fact, I’ve often considered those people to be opportunists – they seem to prey upon me while I’ve been in my lowest or weakest condition. I understand their primary concern is my soul, but their scare tactics don’t seem to fit very well with Jesus’ message of love and hope. It would seem that a message centered around sharing the love of Christ would be much more effective than one based on fear.

What is the point of Christianity if everyone is going to be saved?

This question is rather difficult to answer, but the best one that I can think of is this – if we all practiced the things that Jesus taught, the world would be a much better place. I’m sure it is much more complex than that, so maybe further reading will reveal the real answer to this question.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

7 thoughts on “‘If God is Love’ #3”

  1. What better reason for Christianity to exist than for all to be saved?

    Your co-workers are lost and uncertain of the love of God because they are looking for it outside themselves. This manifests itself in their struggle to feel they have worth in their belief that you and many have none. It is sad. But pity will not help them. It is mean-spirited. But indignation, righteous or other wise will not change them. It is hateful yet despising them will not show them the way. Only love will reveal what they are seeking. Their mistaken beliefs are only a cry for that love.

    God, in whatever system of belief we choose, speaks to us from within. He is felt and not heard. He is experienced and not seen. This is because he dwells within all of us. If you can, show your love by silently forgiving them and living your life as if you were God and setting the example he would set. In that way all of us are God and the part of us that would find fault in another’s relationship with God is the part of us that is resistant to our relationship with the God within us.

    I love this quest of yours to know the love of God. It is from this that I am compelled to write of my own beliefs. Though I can only express them to you through platitudes, I must understand them myself through the way I live my life. Your post has been a joyful reminder of that fact. I am grateful.

    WS

  2. Brian,

    Thanks again for another insightful and provocative post.

    The guys at your workplace may be “christians” but not real Christ-followers. There is a big difference between being religious and being like Jesus. One idea: agree to go to their church one Sunday if they will agree to come worship with you at your church one Sunday. That way, if they judge harshly it will at least be based on first-hand experience and not ignorant assumptions.

    I love the “favorite lines”, especially:
    “Growing up, I was asked repeatedly, “If you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?” I was never asked, “If you live tomorrow, what kind of life will it be?”

    along that same line, the question about “Have you ever had someone try to save your eternal soul?”

    Opportunists who use scare tactics are certainly not imitating the way of Jesus. I agree that the motive should just be to love people and be a blessing to them, not try to convert them.

    I think that’s also part of the answer to the last question: What good is Christianity for people who are not christians? God said to Abraham, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing to the nations.” I think it is the same for Chrstians; they should be a blessing to others, even to those who are not Christians.

    As far as “everyone is going to be saved”; that is not what Jesus taught. He repeatedly taught that those who reject God and his son also reject God’s salvation. He is a gentleman, and will not force himself on anyone. When a person forces himself on another we call that ‘rape’; God is not a rapist, spiritually speaking. He gives people a choice, but if we reject Him we cut ourselves off from His blessings, His ‘salvation’.

    One final thing–Just found a quote on another site that speaks to the theme of this post:

    “Love people even in their sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all of God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov”

    Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. Love your blog!

    JimT

  3. WS & JimT,

    Thank you both so much for your words of wisdom and insight.

    WS said: God, in whatever system of belief we choose, speaks to us from within. He is felt and not heard. He is experienced and not seen. This is because he dwells within all of us. If you can, show your love by silently forgiving them and living your life as if you were God and setting the example he would set.

    Great advice. I will certainly try!

    JimT said: As far as “everyone is going to be saved”; that is not what Jesus taught. He repeatedly taught that those who reject God and his son also reject God’s salvation.

    That is one of the most difficult things in the book for me to accept, especially considering that it goes against what I was taught as a child in the Pentecostal church and the Baptist school that I attended.

    The authors had a preceding book entitled If Grace Is True that apparently deals with how they arrived at that belief, while this book concentrates more on the way believing salvation is universal can change our lives. I haven’t read the first book yet, but Karen is going to loan it to me.

    “Love people even in their sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all of God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov”

    That literally gave me chills.

  4. Very interesting thought provoking questions and answers.

    Since Father’s day was a couple of weeks ago, I have read quite a few articles that suggest that whatever way we view our earth father as being is also how we seem to view our heavenly Father. I am finding that to be true.

    I also grew up in a two independant Baptist churches that preached “hell and damnation” and for many years came to believe that if their teaches were absolutely the truth than NO ONE would go to heaven and it would be hopeless to believe otherwise. However, later through self realization and searching the scriptures, I KNOW that our God is GRACEFUL and MERCIFUL and He sent his son JESUS to pay that debt so that anyone who accept His message of Love and Forgiveness gets to enter into the gates of Heaven.

    You should hear the song by Dierks Bentley(country) “In the Heaven Were I am going” I absolutely love it!!!!

  5. Brian and Stilldreaming,

    Thanks for the recommendations.
    I will get a hold of the book “If Grace is True” and the song.

    Stilldreaming said, “I KNOW that our God is GRACEFUL and MERCIFUL and He sent his son JESUS to pay that debt so that anyone who accept His message of Love and Forgiveness gets to enter into the gates of Heaven.”

    I agree that’s true for “anyone who accepts His message of Love and Forgiveness”; the sad truth is that there are many that do not accept it, and that breaks God’s heart. Many people rob themselves of the benefits of His grace, mercy and forgiveness.

    I have also found it to be true that we project onto our Heavenly Father our view of our earth father–for better or worse. It’s taken me a long time (still not there, but making progress) to untangle the two, and see each for who they really are.

    JimT

  6. Brian,

    Thought you and others might enjoy the lyrics to the song Stilldreaming recommeded:

    Artist: Dierks bentley
    Song: The Heaven I’m Headed To
    Album: Long Trip Alone

    I hear people talk of heaven
    and how it’s only for the precious few
    but in the book that i’ve been readin’
    sounds to me like there’s a lot of room
    so i bet some folks are gonna be surprised
    about who makes it to the other side ’cause in the

    (chorus:)
    heave i’m headed to
    there’s a place for preachers, thieves and prostitutes
    saints and soldiers, beggars, kings and renegades
    for any soul that ever found amazing grace
    ain’t no tellin’ who on earth he might include
    in the heaven i’m headed to

    it’s not my place to say
    just who does or doesn’t get to go
    i’m only one among the many
    stumblin’ down that narrow road
    there’s so many things in this life to love
    and i believe there’s hope for each of us ’cause

    (repeat chorus)

    and the only thing i know
    we all get the chance to go

    saints and soldiers, beggers, kings and renegades
    any soul that ever found amazing grace
    ain’t no tellin’ who on earth he might include
    in the heave i’m headed to
    the heaven i’m headed to
    the heaven i’m headed to

    JimT

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