A reality that has confronted me the last few months:
I do not, on any given day, operate with God’s love as my background.
When I worship at church, when I read his Word, when I go about my day in general…love isn’t really there. I suppose it took me a while to realize it because it’s hard to recognize absent things that you’ve rarely felt.
Instead, what I mostly sense from God is…a vague dissatisfaction. Criticism. Perhaps annoyance. “It’s never good enough.”
But like a ship tacking into the wind, that’s starting to change.
Even the Cross has never really been a symbol of love for me, I must confess. When I survey the wondrous Cross, my first thought is not, “This is what God did for me.” My first thought is, “This is what God did for me, so you ought to be doing better.” Every time.
This is all true in one sense. We never will be good enough. That’s the point of the cross. Isaiah 64:6 famously says “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” And if we could be good enough, we’d brag of it (and thus not be good enough, lacking humility). God tells us that our “good enough” comes from God’s free gift of grace so that no one can claim to have achieved it through our own works (Eph. 2:8-9).
And there is a striving to the Christian life. We are constantly working towards an ideal that only slowly permeates us and will never be fully realized in this life. Holiness matters. Becoming like him matters.
But along with our absolution and calling, the Word tells us, comes love.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11-12)
Along with the striving…empowering the striving, supporting the striving…comes love.
Colossians 3:12 does come with a command, but when God starts getting verbose and eloquent about his love (“dearly”, “delight”, the similes of Psalm 103), that love can’t help but start seeping through my unbelief. Scripture does that.
So I pray what I’ve come to consider one of the most vital prayers in all of Scripture.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19)
“Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
I want this fullness to be my daily noise. My platform. My foundation. My fuel. The program running in the background.
May it be for all of us this week.