Ministry has moved along sedately. Bible study smoothly. Family and friends well and even the weather moderating a bit.
For me, on this journey, there’s been a bit of a growing sense of anticipation. Not quite yet “excitement”, but a steady sense of the Lord building up towards the Spring, and the Feast of the Resurrection.
If anything, I think the theme has been “simplification”. Lots has been written in various times and places about “simplifying our lives”… occupationally, financially, socially, lots of different ways. But these days on this journey, I’ve felt the gentle urging to simplify “spiritually”, simplify “theologically”. There’s been the sense that as we move through this last part of Lent, I’m to clean up some ideas and convictions, paring them down a bit, removing debris and fluffly lint from them, finding their vibrant living core of truth to set on lampstands for my Temple.
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The first Truth is simple: “Man is created by God for the purpose of being loved by God.”
No ifs, ands, buts, howevers, or other conditioning prepositions or conjunctions to it.
“We love, because He first loved us.” [1 John 4:19].
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:8]
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What I am to rummage through my pack for, and leave here by the side of the road, are all the little “unfaith qualifiers” I tend to tag onto such verses to rob them of their grace, authority, and power.
“Well, yes, He created me to receive His love… but only if I receive Him, believe in Him, and behave properly…” I mean, that’s pretty well squashed as a view by the Romans 5:8 quotation, (I mean, really… the timing on that is pretty clear, isn’t it?) But still, it’s amazing how easily I can doubt God’s “Love Agenda” based on Him assigning some “condition for acceptance” grounded in my own will or works.
“Well, yes, He loves us and created me for that… but then I’ve got to return His love, and worship Him, and fear Him. After all, He MUST have made us to worship Him, right?” Well, if He dealt with us as transactionally as we tend to deal with one another… like “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”… then I guess this would hold water. But, well, this isn’t what scripture says, and Jesus was pretty clear through Sermon on the Mount that this tit-for-tat stuff isn’t really how God deals at all. So I guess that one’s out.
“Well, yes, God loves us, true… but He created us to work for Him, worship Him, and build His Kingdom.” (I’ve seen this one in a few places. I even bought into it for a good chunk of my life.) This one got me into a bit of hot water one day, when God finally confronted such foolishness with a healthy dose of serious reality check. It hit me like a glass of icewater dashed in my face… “Really? REALLY? Like God… Holy God… Omnipotent and Almighty God… NEEDS ME to manage His Kingdom?” Who was I kidding or trying to impress? How silly. He “needs” absolutely NOTHING that I have to offer Him. He created all of Reality perfectly well without man, and certainly didn’t “need” him in the Garden of Eden to tend it. He had other reasons, reasons of love, togetherness, fellowship, and growth in loving… for telling Adam to tend the Garden, but that discussion is for another time.
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Like peeling the husk and silk off fresh ears of corn, or shucking peas… my urging has been to find the core truth… “God created man for the purpose of loving him,” and remove all the other stuff, the jots and tittles, from it.
Now, does God DESIRE more for us, and from us, than that? Absolutely. There’s vastly more to growing in intimate and immediate presence and boundless love relationship with this King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He raises His children with tremendous attention to detail. But all of that, ALL of it, is expression of His love as Our Father. Our “house rules” are nurturance and formation, not our “purpose” or our “conditions of acceptability”.
For me, this is the most fundamental truth I know. Everything else builds from this. Nothing else makes sense until this cornerstone is in place.
God’s agenda is simple: “Our Father has created us, so that He can be Our Father TO us.”
Any questions? No? Good. We’ll move on then…
Grace to thee — The Little Monk