Huh? What you talkin’ about? I’m saved by the promise of the Almighty. Yeshua died for me. I called on the name of the Lord and He saved me. God loves me.
Oh, yes, it is true that Yeshua died so we could be saved, that God is forgiving and loves us, that all who call on His name will be saved, and all that other stuff that makes us feel warm and cozy inside.
But are you saved because you love the Lord or because the Lord loves you? That’s the question we need to ask ourselves. Too often I hear people that are talking about salvation and how God loves everyone. It’s all about how God loves them. But here’s what I think, and maybe it’s just me, but I think we should love the Lord because of who He is and not because of what He does for us.
God deserves our love. God is worthy of our devotion, obedience and worship. He does love us, but does He really love us as we are? For what we are? I don’t think it’s quite as “rosy” as all that; after all, he does require us to obey Him. And I don’t think anyone will argue that when God commands us to “be holy for I am holy” that He is asking us to change.
That’s right- let it sink in. God loves us as we are and for who we are, but He wants us to be different if we are to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. C’mon, get real- we are sinners. Throughout the Manual we are told that everyone is a sinner, and that God is holy, so if we want to be with God, and God is holy, we need to be holy. Right? God can’t abide sin, so we need to be sinless to be with Him.
When Yeshua died for us His death atoned for our sin. That is how we get to be with God, but it’s not a ticket to continue sinning. We still have to die to self, to allow the Ruach to guide us, to be different than we were before we were “saved.”
I hear people talking and preaching and ministering to others, talking all about how God loves you and forgives you. What they are selling is Dr. Feelgood; snake-oil salespeople getting people to accept the Messiah as their personal Saviour only because of how He loves us. It’s all about me, me, me and how much I need to be loved and forgiven for who I am and what I do. Me…me…me!
I think this is wrong because it doesn’t allow people desperately looking for someone to love them to realize what their commitment really means. It all sounds so nice, especially to people who have a sense of loneliness and just want to feel loved. I know people who are loved but they are such a pain the the tuchas they reject the love people give them and ostracize themselves. Then they kvetch about how no one cares about them, but when we do call or show we care they only complain and carp about their lives. They are totally self-centered. These are the types that are ripe for the picking when it comes to telling them about how Jesus loves them and they can be saved and be in heaven, etc.
This is not what Yeshua said. In Matthew He says that anyone who wants to follow Him must reject parents and family, they won’t have a place to sleep or a home, and they must pick up their execution stake and follow HIm. He says he is a wedge between mother and daughter, father and son, and that the world will hate those who follow Him.
Doesn’t sound much like a good time, party-hearty atmosphere, does it?
I think of the parable of the sower of seed. Those people who are ministered to and proselytized on the basis that God loves them, no matter what, are the people who hear the Word and accept it but are shallow soil. Why? Because they are accepting salvation for selfish reasons. Their interest isn’t in doing what God wants because He is worthy of our worship and obedience, but only for what God can do for them.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am VERY grateful for God’s forgiveness, and it is a good feeling to know He loves me and that Yeshua did what He did for me. But I am saved because I want to have a relationship with God, I want to fill the emptiness I have felt my whole life not knowing who He is. It’s all about Him, and very little to do with me. That’s the kind of soil where roots grow deep because we are centered on what God is, what God deserves, and I worship Him because He is worthy of my worship.
I don’t want to sound holier than thou. I accepted Yeshua because, as Shaul says, I was jealous. I knew Christian’s who had a peace and joy that God gave them and I wanted in. I did want what salvation offered for selfish reasons, too. But that wasn’t all of it, and it shouldn’t be. As I have matured, spiritually (anyone who knows me can vouch that the only maturity I have is spiritual) I have come to realize that we need to be different, that although God loves us He wants us to be better. And salvation depends not just on asking, but on our doing, too. That’s right- it’s a free gift but it’s like having muscles: if you don’t use them,they atrophy and die. Our salvation is meant to be used to bring others into the Kingdom, to be fishers of men, to be a lamp, a light and to spread the Word by showing people how much God has changed us.
When we read of Yeshua’s ministry, how many times did He preach “God loves you?” It certainly was evident in the way He talked, but didn’t He really preach repent? Didn’t He make it difficult? Didn’t He warn us (by means of how He warned His Talmudim) about how difficult it was going to be following Him? I don’t recall from the Gospels Yeshua droning on and on about God’s love and forgiveness and how happy you will be and how wonderful that you will get to be in heaven. Yeah, He made mention of it, sure. But it wasn’t what He really stressed, was it?
I want people to know the peace and joy that comes from His indwelling Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God. It has calmed me and helped me through rough times. I know God loves me and wants me to be saved; He says it over and over throughout the Bible. I would rather be with God than anywhere else,especially throughout Eternity. And because this is so important, I want everyone to know how difficult it is to be godly in a cursed world. I don’t want to “sucker them in” with promises of a rose garden for them to find out it’s really more like a brier patch. It’s tough being holy, it goes against our nature. And if all someone is told about is how wonderful they are, how God loves them, and only how about good they can feel knowing that the Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, the Lord, God, the Big Guy Himself, is only interested in making them feel loved, well…they will fall. They are accepting salvation on a premise that God is here for them, and the truth is we are here for God. If you really mean it when you say it is all about God, then you understand why I am so concerned about not pushing just love, love, love but making sure I tell people that it is tough, tough,tough out there when you accept salvation because you have to be different, you have to change. God loves you but He wants you to be different than you are now.
God is our Father in heaven, He is also our Judge, Jury and Executioner; He is Love, and He is justice and vengeance. When people accept His gift of Grace, it shouldn’t be only because of what God is doing for them. That won’t cut it when the going gets tough. Yeshua told the truth. He didn’t preach how wonderful it would be for everyone, He preached how everyone should be so it can be wonderful. We need to follow Yeshua’s example and preach the truth, both the wonderful and the not-so-wonderful aspects of salvation. We need to be tough and make sure people know what they are in for.
General “Chesty” Puller, a Commandant of the Marine Corps, and 5-time Medal of Honor winner, used to say that the more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war. This is war we are in, spiritual war, yes, but war all the same. We need to make soldiers for God and we can’t do that with people who are in it just to be “Hollywood Marines” (that’s a name we gave people who joined the Marine Corps just to look cool in the uniform.) We need to tell about more than just how God loves us because people who are “saved” so that they can feel loved are not going to last, and if we do that to them, if we tell them only the good and don’t prepare them for the worst, we are doing them an injustice and trampling the blood of Messiah into the dust.
I love the Lord because He is deserving of it. Not just for what He has done for me, but because He is deserving of it! If He never gave me a blessing, never did a single nice thing for me, He is still worthy and deserving of my love and obedience because of who He is.
And because of who He is, He does do nice things for me. He showers me with blessings I don’t deserve, and I am eternally grateful. Be grateful, be happy in the knowledge that you are loved, and that the Almighty wants you to be with Him. But don’t forget that we need to steel ourselves for battle, to put on the armor of God, and to focus on what we can do for His glory.
If it isn’t all about Him, it isn’t going to last.