Tuesday, July 7, 2015

True Love that Really Wins

A lot of the current public discourse has been hash tagged “Love Wins”, which got me reflecting on true love that really wins.

When I meditate on all that I have been blessed with in life I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I am a blessed man and have received grace upon grace, more than I deserve from the hand of God. Over the course of my lifetime in some cases I have gotten good things that I desired that turned out well. Sometimes I have not gotten things I thought that I wanted or needed, and it turned out for the good that I did not receive them. Other times I strived for something, obtained it, and it was, as the proverb says, “like gravel in my mouth”, a painful lesson about my limited grasp of what is best. Thankfully God has given me what He knows is best, not what I think is best in my puny understanding.

The Providence of God reigns in every case. I have nothing that has not been granted to me by the grace of God, and even when I received things I craved that turned out badly, I believe the hand of God was at work to show me that my flesh often desires what is contrary to my good and He sometimes allows it in order for me to learn that truth, and to instead turn to Him for provision.

What is true for individuals can be true for groups of people, even nations. Some things we crave are noble and true: freedom, health, prosperity and posterity. But some things we crave lead us down a path that we envision as right and good, but which lead to death, both in spirit and character.

It is not our “right”, nor are we “entitled”, to fulfill every grunting passion that inflames us, whether it be individually or collectively. There is a difference between freedom and licentiousness. That's an old term you don't hear much anymore, but it basically means to give oneself over to any fleshly appetite no matter how perverse; to live with unbridled restraint to pursue whatever passion our carnal nature desires. And the more we yield to such tempests raging within us, the more the cravings will be fanned into a bigger, hotter inferno burning out a hollow place within.

The Apostle Paul speaks of this ratcheting intensity of fleshly passions when he says in Romans 6:19—

For just as you once presented yourselves as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

In chapter one of Romans Paul speaks of how people can so give themselves up to destructive passions that God at last removes His hand from them and allows them to sink to the maximum into their lawless passions. That is a terrible, perilous place to be.

As I write this, I’m at the beach (which explains my waxing philosophical). A raft or beach toy left in the surf gets tossed around, out of control, by the raging of the sea. Likewise, our fleshly instincts and the chaos of the world buffets us like so much flotsam on the waves. We think we are in control of ourselves, but we are not. But there is a way to the stability and safety of the shore.

While the human race was mired in rebellion against the God who spoke the universe into existence, collectively denying Him and shaking a fist in His face, God, in His boundless mercy, came in human form, took the penalty upon Himself that was due to us in our rebellion against Him, went to the grave, then rose triumphant over death. The case against us was overwhelming, yet the Righteous Judge stepped down from the high bench, having pronounced judgment upon Himself, and took our punishment for us. By turning to Him, placing our trust in His redemptive work on the cross and submitting to His Lordship, we are redeemed from our sinful nature and enter into eternal life with the God of all creation.

This is how true love really wins:

For God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.—Romans 5:8

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in Him is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.—John 3:16-18

Often we demand to be accepted, to receive our “rights”. God accepts us how we are, but in His wise and boundless love for us, He does not leave us as we are. Instead, He redeems us then begins the work of molding and shaping us into the Image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

In recent days the evidence mounts…rapidly…that we as a nation are perilously close to that dreadful place I described earlier from Romans chapter one: that we have so relentlessly pursued the most puerile carnality that God may be about to, if He hasn’t already, remove His hand of protection. The nation is filled with racial strife, we are pursuing every dark corner of rapacious sexuality, and our materialism has driven us to unprecedented financial recklessness. If we continue this way, terrible days are ahead for America and the world.

Yet I cling to hope through prayer that we as a nation will turn from the path we are careening down and call out for the God who has so graciously blessed us. God can and has moved in powerful ways when the hour seemed darkest, and if we let Him, if we choose Him, He will again.