We close out this advent season reflecting on love.
Grace is love in action. God has taken action, giving wings to His love by sending His Son to this planet before we had any idea what was going on. We did not deserve such an extravagant gift, nor could we ever. We cannot earn it, we can’t buy it, not even on Amazon.
This is grace.
Before God (the Hound of Heaven) tracked me down and brought me into relationship with Him, I thought I would have to get my act together prior to going to church. Since then, I have heard many variations of this from people who are not yet followers of Christ–“God would never accept me like this.”
As it turns out, it’s all a load of crap.
This IS NOT about going to church. Far too many people (believers included) see going to church as a way to earn God’s love. It’s not, and you can’t earn God’s love. Why not? Because you already have it. He has loved you more than you can imagine since before you were even born. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or will do. His grace is bigger than all of that. There is NOTHING that can separate you from His love!
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, or nor heavenly rulers neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Apostle Paul, in Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
So this is what it’s all about: being in an intimate relationship with God.
The Bible frequently compares the relationship God wants to have with us to that of a (good) marriage. I love my wife and she loves me, and we fell in love a long time ago. We talk and share a life together because we already love each other, not so I can try to earn her love. And while I had shortcomings I wish I could have gotten rid of before we got married, I didn’t, but we got married anyway. It hasn’t always been easy, we have had to contend for it, but thankfully we are still in love today, even more so than when we got married 27 years ago. I’m so glad we didn’t wait until I “had my act together” (whatever that really means) before we got married! And I believe I’m a better person today because of my relationship with her.
So in the same way, we shouldn’t go to church to check a box or to try to earn God’s love. We should go to church to tell God how much we love and appreciate Him, and to learn more about Him so we can grow deeper in relationship with Him.
This is really all God wants from us: to accept His gift of love, entering into a relationship with Him so we can swim in his oceans of grace and forgiveness.
If you believe that it’s about anything else–standards of dress or behavior or anything else that the world thinks is required to go to church, then you have believed a lie straight from the pit of hell. Refer again to the passage from the eighth chapter of Romans above–none of these things can separate us from God’s love. God doesn’t care about your haircut.
So before the glow of Christmas cheer slips from our grasp completely like water draining from cupped hands, let me pass along this invitation: spend a moment pondering what unbelievably good news it is that the One who created us knows us better than we know ourselves, knows every rotten thing we have ever done and ever will do, but loves us anyway, more than we could ever hope or imagine. He love us enough to give us His Son as a Christmas gift.
This is grace. This is the gospel. It is the love of our God.