Every once in awhile we hear it: “unconditional love.” God has it; we should practice it.
But is love ever really unconditional? Or is this a nice phrase that sounds good but actually deceives?
Does God love unconditionally? Is unconditional love, in fact, psychologically possible?
At base these questions are one, since our capacity to love is part of God’s image in us.
This question actually reaches to the heart of today’s moral and ethical confusion. We are adrift because we have forgotten who God is, and the deep nature of his love. Modern ideas of love focus on emotion rather than character; shifting feelings rather than considered commitment. We go astray ethically when we measure love by fallen, self-centered human notions and emotions, not by God’s character as revealed in Jesus Christ. Humanity will continue to drift unless it again grasps what God’s love is—what it requires and costs.
Everyone likes the idea of unconditional love. It must be the loftiest kind of love, something like the romantic cliché, “endless love.” But does the idea even make sense? Certainly not without at least some clarification. Consider three cases:
Human ExamplesA mother is having a test of wills with her two-year-old. The young boy wants to continue playing with his toys, but it’s time for bath and bed. Mom has already given him a five-minute grace period, after his first howling protests. Now she insists he will do as she says. She is not being unloving; her firmness is an expression of her concern for his well-being. Of course, the child doesn’t see it that way. Or doesn’t care. He simply wants his own will. If he could speak his feelings, he would probably say, “If you really loved me, you’d let me do what I want!”
As adults, we have little problem identifying with Mom here. We understand a child’s immaturity. Mom really is expressing love. But is it unconditional love? Yes, in the sense that she will continue loving her son even if he disobeys (if she is a healthy mother). But no, in the sense that, in this as many other situations, love itself requires conditions.
A harder case: Dick and Jane have been married for almost twenty years. It’s been a good marriage over all, with three healthy children. But problems have sprouted in the past couple of years. And recently Jane discovered that her husband has committed adultery.
Dick wants to continue the adulterous relationship. He also wants his wife to accept it, like an up-to-date, sensible person, and let the marriage continue. What does real love mean for Jane in this situation? If she really loves him unconditionally, won’t she accept her husband on his terms, as an expression of her love? Or will genuine love here require Jane to say, in effect: “It’s either me or her.” Sometimes (maybe always), genuine love requires conditions.
God’s Ultimate LoveSo we come to the third, the ultimate case. The love of God, “greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.” Human love may fail, but surely God’s love is unconditional, right?
God created man and woman and put them in the Garden. Conditionality were there from the start: “You are free . . . . But you must not . . .” (Gen. 2:16-17 NIV). The same truth runs throughout Scripture. And the logic of it undergirds the whole meaning of Jesus’ coming, death, and resurrection.
If God’s love were unconditional, the cross would be unnecessary. God does not love unconditionally. He loved so much that he sent his Son. And he loves so much that he will not, cannot, forgive and accept us as his redeemed children except on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice. To do otherwise would betray the integrity of God’s own character. Precisely for this reason, acceptance without cost or sacrifice would betray the essential nature of love itself.
The cross is the ultimate proof that true love is never unconditional.
The same truth underlies the interrelationships of the three Persons of the Trinity. Here we are dealing with ultimate reality. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love each other unreservedly and without limit, but not unconditionally. The condition of their mutual love is their mutual submission and self-giving. This is the profoundest, but most glorious and most hopeful, reality in the universe. In fact, it defines love.
True love is impossible without the potential for freely-given response. Therefore truly unconditional love is impossible. The reason for this is that love is all about personal relationships, about reciprocity. Genuine love is a relationship of mutuality between or among “sovereign” persons—“sovereign” in the sense that if love is compelled, it ceases to be love.
If God loved unconditionally, he would forgive and accept every person unconditionally (as many assume he does). No cross, either for Jesus or us. But then the Christian message would be logically incoherent and psychologically unsound. It would be as shallow as the love of a person who always accepts another’s behavior, no matter how offensive or destructive, without ever calling him or her to account. That’s called codependence.
Why doesn’t God simply accept people (sinners) on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, irrespective of their response? Again, the answer lies in the nature of love itself. Without repentance, faith, and discipleship, a woman or man is not morally and psychologically capable of experiencing God’s love in its redemptive and transforming power. Without such a response, what a person feels in relation to God is something less than God’s love. It may be relief, psychological peace, or even a (false) sense of security. But it is not God’s transforming love, and therefore not salvation. If thought to be salvation, it is actually deception.
God’s love is conditional, not because God is a tyrant but because God is love. If God loved unconditionally, he would be less than God. To those who say this is outmoded mythology, I would say it is moral and psychological necessity. It is grounded not merely in psychology, however, but in God’s character as demonstrated in his acts in history.
Many people, probably even many Christians, think God’s love is unconditional. Many have bought the sentiment of the old popular song, “He”: “Though it makes him sad to see the way we live, he’ll always say, ‘I forgive.’” This is fuzzy romanticism and cheap grace, not the Good News of Jesus Christ.
If Jesus’ cross was necessary, then so is ours. To rely on God’s “unconditional love” apart from Jesus Christ, and apart from personal faith and discipleship, is to trust in myth or mushy sentiment –– whether we are “liberals,” “evangelicals,” “fundamentalists,” or something else. The Good News is that God’s love in Jesus Christ forgives, transforms, and empowers for righteous, compassionate living. The essential conditions are two: Jesus’ death on the cross (costly grace) and our exercise of self-committing trust (genuine faith).
Apart from God’s grace we can do nothing to save ourselves. Our works can never save us (Titus 3:5). But this does not mean salvation is unconditional. Jesus shows us the true nature of love –– and its breathtaking cost.This post was written by Dr Howard Snyder. For the original post, go to: http://howardsnyder.seedbed.com/2013/10/09/is-love-ever-unconditional/
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
God is aching for you to be one with Him, that He might use you. He wants to give you a voice in His kingdom. He wants to show you his power.
So when He defines His terms of sexual purity, don’t say, “God can’t possibly mean that!” because He does. Christ is looking to see where you can be trustworthy – capable of handling more for His Kingdom. Jesus says, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
If you aren’t trustworthy in handling fleshly passions, how can you be trusted to handle things of great value? Jesus said that if you were faithful in the little things, He would entrust you with bigger things. In this, God isn’t primarily referring to what He’s called you to do in His kingdom. He’s primarily concerned with what He’s called you to be in your character.
Maybe you’ve asked God to reveal His will for your life, but how are you doing with that “little” part of His will that He has already revealed to you?
Excerpted from Every Young Man’s Battle – pages 80-81BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
A sower went out to sow some seed . . .
A man fell into the hands of robbers . . .
Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one . . .
There were ten virgins with ten lamps . . .
Think of it. You are the Son of the living God. You have come to earth to rescue the human race. It is your job to communicate truths without which your precious ones will be lost . . . forever. Would you do it like this? Why doesn’t he come right out and say it—get to the point? What’s with all the stories?
We children of the Internet and the cell phone and the Weather Channel, we think we are the enlightened ones. We aren’t fooled by anything—we just want the facts. The bottom line. So proposition has become our means of saying what is true and what is not. And proposition is helpful . . . for certain things. Sacramento is the capital of California; water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But proposition fails when it comes to the weightier things in life. While it is a fact that the Civil War was fought between the years of 1861 and 1865, and while it is also a fact that hundreds of thousands of men died in that war, those facts hardly describe what happened at Bull Run or Gettysburg. You don’t even begin to grasp the reality of the Civil War until you hear the stories, see pictures from the time, visit the battlefields yourself.
How much more so when it comes to the deep truths of the Christian faith. God loves you; you matter to him. That is a fact, stated as a proposition. I’ll bet most of you have heard it any number of times. Why, then, aren’t we the happiest people on earth? It hasn’t reached our hearts. Facts stay lodged in the mind. Proposition speaks to the mind, but when you tell a story, you speak to the heart.
And that’s why when Jesus comes to town, he speaks in a way that will get past all our intellectual defenses and disarm our hearts.This is an excerpt from the book, Waking the Dead by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
"The glory of God is man fully alive. (Saint Irenaeus)
When I first stumbled across this quote my initial reaction was . . . You’re kidding me. Really? I mean, is that what you’ve been told? That the purpose of God—the very thing he’s staked his reputation on—is your coming fully alive? Huh. Well, that’s a different take on things. It made me wonder, What are God’s intentions toward me? What is it I’ve come to believe about that? Yes, we’ve been told any number of times that God does care, and there are some pretty glowing promises given to us in Scripture along those lines. But on the other hand, we have the days of our lives, and they have a way of casting a rather long shadow over our hearts when it comes to God’s intentions toward us in particular. I read the quote again, “The glory of God is man fully alive,” and something began to stir in me. Could it be?
I turned to the New Testament to have another look, read for myself what Jesus said he offers. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Wow. That’s different from saying, “I have come to forgive you. Period.” Forgiveness is awesome, but Jesus says here he came to give us life. Hmmm. Sounds like ol’ Irenaeus might be on to something. “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48). “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:38). The more I looked, the more this whole theme of life jumped off the pages. I mean, it’s everywhere.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23).
“You have made known to me the path of life” (Ps. 16:11).
“In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4).
“Come to me to have life” (John 5:40).
“Tell the people the full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20).This post is taking from the book Waking the Dead, pp 10-11 by John Eldredge.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust".
Imagine yourself traveling across a desert in the heat of the afternoon sun. You are desperate for a place to rest. You need shelter from the heat. You search the horizon for a tree or a large rock that could provide the comfort of shade.
During the process of recovery we become aware of our need for a sheltered place in which to rest. The journey can be exhausting and disorienting. But we don't know how to rest. It doesn't come naturally to us. We don't know where to find a safe shelter.
Now imagine yourself resting in God's shadow. You are sheltered, safe, at rest. The heat of the desert will not consume you because of God's protection. You can sit and rest in God's loving presence. God is a shade, a shelter, a fortress. You can draw strength and comfort from God's presence.
Rest has the potential of teaching us two essential truths. First, we are not God. God is God. We are creatures. We are limited, finite, dependent. It is a good thing to be a creature with needs. Second, when we rest we may learn in new ways that we are loved. Because we are God's children, God loves us. Not because of what we do, but simply because of who we are, we are loved.
I turn to you, Lord
from the heat of the sun
and the pressures of the journey of life.
I turn to you
I want to rest in you today.
Be my shelter
O Most High.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
I’m not going to use this phrase anymore: Love the sinner and hate the sin. In our current mission context, it has lost whatever insight and help it might once have offered. In fact, to use the phrase and try to guide ministry with it in mind may actually subvert the mission.
I don’t quarrel with either loving sinners or hating sin. God does both and so should all who love God. But trying to love the sinner, while keeping in mind a concern to make sure “we hate the sin,” whatever we understand that to mean, leads to failure in my judgment. There are reasons why I say this. Most of us find it hard to focus on more than one thing primarily. Actually, by definition it is not even possible. Whatever you focus on primarily requires you to focus less on everything else. Thus in this case we feel obliged to choose—either we focus on loving (the sinner) or hating (the sin). When you put it that way it seems fairly obvious that we ought to choose loving over hating. That is, we want to be like Jesus, which means that people would know us primarily because they catch us and feel us loving, not hating. This doesn’t mean we never hate anything; it just means we’re not primarily found hating.
But often we do or try to do exactly that which by definition is not really possible—to focus primarily on both loving (the sinner) and hating (the sin). And because it cannot be done, we do not succeed. We end up doing only one thing primarily. Sadly, for most of us and the people Jesus wants us to reach, we end up hating (the sin) primarily. We wouldn’t want anyone to think that we are soft on sin, or that in loving others we’re simply indulging them or their sin. So, as it seems, in the interest of assuring that we’re really getting love right and correct—often we call it “tough love”—it appears right to focus more or primarily or first on hating (the sin).
Yet, in fact, this is not right, or not as right as we think when we do this. And, it could be that in focusing primarily on hating (the sin) we not only fail actually to love (the sinner) but also miss the mark in properly hating (the sin). Let me say more.
I am convinced that we should simply follow Jesus and focus on loving period, loving all that Jesus loves in the way that Jesus loves. To illustrate, recall the famous case-study of the “woman taken/caught in adultery” (John 7:53-8:11). It serves as perhaps one of the most celebrated examples of the pure and radical love of Jesus for the sinner. Ironically (or maybe not), it is also cited by those who want to make sure that in loving the sinner we do not inadvertently go soft on sin, because Jesus commands the woman: “Go and sin no more!”
In this episode, Jesus is teaching in the Temple when he is interrupted by a squad of Scribes and Pharisees who thrust a woman into the midst of Teacher and students. They explain by saying that the woman had been caught in the very act of adultery. Now, will Jesus prove soft on sin and disobey the “clear teaching” of the scriptures? They fake an interest in knowing, though in fact they already know all they need to know. They know that Jesus is“soft” on sin. It is because they know this that they stage the dramatic “test” of Jesus’ holiness. In effect, “This is what God says Jesus—stone her! Now, what do you say?”
We like to jump to the end of the story quickly to note that Jesus tells the woman to go and sin no more, as evidence that Jesus did love (the sinner) and hate (the sin). Thus, we conclude: Jesus did both and so should we.
I am not disputing that Jesus did both. But I am insisting that still Jesus primarily loved (the sinners). His focus was first and foremost on love. Jesus was not soft on sin. He knew all about the sin in the crowd that day. Jesus knew about the set-up involved in apparently catching only the woman in the very act and not the man. Jesus knew about the hypocrisy and deceit in the crowd since no one among them that day “obeyed” this Mosaic command. Jesus knew about their motives in calling attention to this sin in order to justify other sins and eventually the ultimate sin of murdering God’s son. Jesus knew about all the wrong in all the lives of all the people there. Jesus always came “armed” with such intel on everyone around him, for he knew what was in the human heart (and what was not). And, in this episode, Jesus was utterly confident that there was no one there among the accusers without sin. He knew that if he consented to obey the Mosaic command on condition that the first stone came from the sinless one the woman would not end her life condemned but loved all the way to a new life. Jesus knew that by loving her—and also every Scribe and Pharisee friend there—new life could come. Jesus loved the sinners and that, in turn, turned them away from their sin, if anything could, at least for a season.
Most of us who have endeavored to love (sinners) while hating (their sins) have cited Jesus’ admonition to the woman to go and stop sinning. But we fail to observe when Jesus says this, a failure with potentially devastating consequences. Jesus does not begin the conversation with such a statement, not with this woman and not with anyone else we know about. No, Jesus primarily loves her and does what love does in relation to her. As love will do, he refuses to condemn her, certainly at first and even later. He refuses to participate in public humiliation and shame. He protects her from abuse and the manipulation of others. He defends her against the crowd that only wants to destroy her for the sake of their cause. Jesus loves her in all these ways before he says anything about her sins. In fact, it is only after the woman has been spared from condemnation—only after she has been “saved”—that Jesus says, “Go and sin no more.”
Jesus primarily loved the sinners and, by pursuing love, sin came into the light and more than met its match. We would be wise to follow Jesus. That’s what I want to do more than ever.
Afterward: some of us will not be persuaded by what I am suggesting. Some will insist that it is important to take a stand against sin and will insist there must be a way to do so while genuinely loving sinners. I will not say they or you are wrong.
But here is the counsel I would give. Let’s start by hating our own sin first. If the sinners we would love are murderers, let’s start by hating the anger and rage that may lurk in our hearts. If the sinners are wonton pleasure seekers, let’s start by hating any self-preoccupations that may drive our lives. If the sinners are sexual transgressors, let’s start by hating the lust in our own hearts and any little lapses of integrity there may be in relation to others. If the sinners are enslaved to drugs or sex, let’s start by hating all of the compulsions and unhealthy pressures pushing us away from the best God shows us in the way of Jesus. In other words, let’s love other sinners and ourselves enough to invite any who are drawn to us to join us in “going and sinning no more.” I think that is really what Jesus did, except unlike us he had no sin to stop.This post was written by David Kendall, Bishop of The Free Methodist Church of North America. For the original post go to:http://fmcusa.org/davidkendall/2013/06/18/love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin/
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
There are days when we feel God's presence. We sense God's love. We see God's power. But we do not always feel or sense or see. There are times of silence, distance and uncertainty. Thereare the difficult times of waiting for God to appear. In times likethis we may find ourselves both longing for God and fearing that God will come.
The longing comes because in our heart of hearts we know that there is no recovery without God's gracious presence. If God does not appear, we are stuck, bound, hopelessly entangled in dysfunction. If God does appear, it will be like the sun rising - we will be able to see the way. It will be like gentle rains which nurture us so that we can grow and thrive.
The fear comes because often we do not see God as one who comes as 'sun' and 'rain' to give life. We are afraid that when God does appear, it will be to punish us, to demand restitution from us, to shame us. Because we have served vengeful and vindictive gods, we fear that it will be the god-of-impossible-expectations who will finally appear.
We do well to follow the urging of this text to 'acknowledge God'. We need daily to examine whom we serve. When we acknowledge the god-of -impossible-expectations, then we will surely fear his appearing. But if we acknowledge the God of the Bible whose coming is to nurture and give life, then we will await God's coming like the dawn of a new day.
I acknowledge you, Lord.
You are not the god of impossible-expectations.
You are not the god-who-is-eager-to-punish.
I know what it is like when these other gods come.
They bring shame, blame and fear.
I do not acknowledge them, Lord.
I acknowledge you.
Come as the dawn of a new day, Lord.
Bring light into my dark days.
Come as gentle rain, Lord,
Cleanse, renew and nurture.
Come, Lord, as the dawn.
Come as the rains.
Water the parched earth of my soul.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
The following is a conversation that recently took place in my daughter’s middle school group. And I think it does a good job highlighting three mistakes that we often make when we talk about the sovereignty of God and how it relates to sin and suffering in the world.
Youth pastor: God is sovereign. That means he controls everything that happens.
Middle-schooler: So God was in control when my dog died? Why would God kill my dog?
Youth pastor: That’s a tough one. But sometimes God lets us go through hard times so that we’re prepared for even more difficult things in the future. I remember how hard it was when my dog died. But going through that helped me deal with an even more difficult time later when my grandma died. Does that make sense?
Middle-schooler: (Long pause.) So God killed my dog to prepare me for when he’s going to kill my grandma?
Youth pastor: (Silence.)
Ah, youth ministry. There’s nothing like a question from a 12-year old to make you realize that what you just said doesn’t make as much sense as you thought it did when you said it.
Like I said, if you look closely at this quick exchange, I think you’ll see three mistakes that people commonly make when talking about the sovereignty of God and how it relates to the bad things that happen in the world.
1. Answering the Wrong QuestionThis one actually relates more to how we handle difficult questions in general. It surprises me how often I hear someone ask a really good, thoughtful question, only to receive an answer to a completely different question. Notice in the dialog that the student wanted to know about why God killed their dog. That’s a question about God’s direct, personal agency in something apparently bad. But the answer had to do with why God permitted the dog to die. That’s a related, but distinctly different, issue.
And this isn’t a small problem. Many people won’t realize that your answer didn’t actually match the question. Instead, they’ll assume it did. And that can set them up for some serious misunderstanding.
That’s what happened in this dialog. The student asked about God killing the dog. The youth pastor skipped that question and went directly to God’s permissive will. But the student (understandably) thought the youth pastor was answering the question he actually asked. So he concluded that the youth pastor was agreeing that God did in fact kill the dog, and was just trying to explain why God would do such a thing. That clearly wasn’t the youth pastor’s intent, but by answering the wrong question, he set the student up for that misunderstanding.
All this to say: listen to questions carefully. Answering the wrong question can cause problems.
2. Confusing Authority and Agency When talking about the sovereignty of God and how it relates to sin and evil, it’s important to distinguish two concepts: authority and agency. When we say that God is “sovereign,” we’re affirming that God has authority over everything that happens in the universe. He’s the king. And as such, he has sovereign power over everything that happens. If he wants to make a river flow backwards, he can do that. It’s his river. As king, he has the requisite power and authority.
But that’s different than saying that he directly causes everything that happens, which is a question of agency. A king may have sovereign authority over the merchant in the market, but when that merchant sells a bag of rice, we don’t say that the king personally performed that action.
So agency and authority are distinct concepts. And we can combine them in different ways when understanding how God relates to sin and evil. Pretty much all Christians agree that God has authority over everything that happens, even the bad stuff. (Yes, even Arminians affirm that God is sovereign in this sense.) But they disagree on precisely how to understand God’s agency. Some will say that God directly causes everything that happen. Others want to talk about different kinds of causation (i.e. divine and creaturely causation are both at work in every event, but God’s agency is somehow less direct and he is thus not responsible for sin and evil). And I could go on. The point is to recognize that different approaches to divine agency still affirm divine authority. They just unpack it the relationship differently.
In our story, the youth pastor failed to recognize the distinction and answered a question about agency with an answer about authority. Don’t do that.
3. Trying to Make Evil Sound Good There’s a fine line between helping people see that God is amazing enough to use even the worst situations for his good purposes and making it sound like those horrible situations are actually good things. Yes, God can use a bad situation for good ends. He does it all the time. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and God rescued people from famine. The Babylonians crushed Judah, and God demonstrated his awesome holiness. Jesus was executed on a cross, and God redeemed a sinful world. Our God is amazing, and he is always at work in the midst of even the most horrific situations.
That doesn’t mean those horrific situations are actually good. It just means that God is good. And creative. And powerful. And redemptive.
We don’t praise God for evil, we praise God in the midst of evil. Those are critically different responses. And we must avoid the former lest, in our hurry to comfort, we minimize evil and suggest that God is somehow culpable in the very sin he works so actively against.
Discussing the sovereignty of God with someone struggling through a difficult situation is always a challenge. You have to be careful not to minimize their pain and make it sound like they should somehow be able to just “move on” simply because you’ve reminded them that God is in control. The sovereignty of God doesn’t make the pain go away, it just puts the pain in context. That is a good thing to do, but it must be done carefully.This post was written by Marc Cortez. You can find the original post with comments at: http://marccortez.com/2013/06/13/sovereignty-of-god-3-mistakes/
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
How do we know that we are not deluding ourselves, that we are not selecting those words that best fit our passions, that we are not just listening to the voice of our own imagination?...Who can determine if [our] feelings and insights are leading [us] in the right direction?
Our God is greater than our own heart and mind, and too easily we are tempted to make our heart’s desires and our mind’s speculations into the will of God. Therefore, we need a guide, a director, a counselor who helps us to distinguish between the voice of God and all other voices coming from our own confusion or from dark powers far beyond our control.
We need someone who encourages us when we are tempted to give it all up, to forget it all, to just walk away in despair. We need someone who discourages us when we move too rashly in unclear directions or hurry proudly to a nebulous goal. We need someone who can suggest to us when to read and when to be silent, which words to reflect upon and what to do when silence creates much fear and little peace.
This post is excerpted from Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen.
Here is the link for The Henri Nouwen Society: http://www.henrinouwen.orgBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
God has a battle to fight, and the battle is for our freedom. As Tremper Longman says, "Virtually every book of the Bible—Old and New Testaments—and almost every page tells us about God's warring activity." I wonder if the Egyptians who kept Israel under the whip would describe Yahweh as a Really Nice Guy? Plagues, pestilence, the death of every firstborn—that doesn't seem very gentlemanly, now, does it?
You remember that wild man, Samson? He's got a pretty impressive masculine résumé: killed a lion with his bare hands, pummeled and stripped thirty Philistines when they used his wife against him, and finally, after they burned her to death, he killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey. Not a guy to mess with. But did you notice? All those events happened when "the Spirit of the LORD came upon him" Now, let me make one thing clear: I am not advocating a sort of "macho man" image. I'm not suggesting we all head off to the gym and then to the beach to kick sand in the faces of wimpy Pharisees.
I am attempting to rescue us from a very, very mistaken image we have of God—especially of Jesus—and therefore of men as his image-bearers. Dorothy Sayers wrote that the church has "very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah," making him "a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies." Is that the God you find in the Bible?
You can tell what kind of God you've got simply by noting the impact he has on you. Does he make you bored? Does he scare you with his doctrinal nazism? Does he make you want to scream because he's just so very nice? In the Garden of Gethsemane, in the dead of night, a mob of thugs "carrying torches, lanterns and weapons" comes to take Christ away. Note the cowardice of it—why didn't they take him during the light of day, down in the town?
Does Jesus shrink back in fear?
No, he goes to face them head-on.
This post is an excerpt from Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
BE A MAN.