Sunday, August 24, 2014

God's Heart: Love vs. Law

I was listening to Graham Cooke recently. He said that a person's concept is the most important thing in a person's head. Our picture of who God is, and what he is like, is the most important "stuff" that fills our hearts and heads. It is that picture that creates the framework for our lives. 

If God is watching us like a hawk, waiting for us to blow it, so he can stomp on us, then we will live in a type of vigilance. We will sit on the edge of our seats, uncomfortable in his presence, uneasy in taking action lest we offend him.

If God is watching us (like a hawk) to find ways to guide us towards restoration, towards redemption, towards living as we were designed, we will rest in his love, we will be assured of his acceptance, and we will not fear in taking actions or failing.

We looked recently at the woman caught in adultery. Religious leaders caught this woman and brought her to Jesus. Jewish law said she should be executed for this type of sin. They challenged Jesus to uphold the law. Jesus, in return, challenged them by forcing them to look at their own lives. They all deserved punishment under the law.

Living as we were designed to live is more than avoiding a bunch of "shall not's." Even if we kept all the "shall not's" we still would not be living as God intended.

God intended that all people should be part of his family. He began the process of redemption and restoration with the Jews. Yet, whenever the Jews lived in a mixed society, they invariably allowed the society to influence them, and they pulled away from and ceased following God. Part of God's law warns against this mixing. So, the Jews pursued a policy of isolationism. Current understanding of God's law said God wanted his people to avoid contact with non-Jews. Yet, God really wanted the Jews to engage with non-Jews and invite them to be a part of his family.

After Jesus returned to heaven, God sent an angel to a non-Jew to urge him to invite one of the apostles to come and tell him and his family God's good news of love and acceptance, and to take action that is appropriate to becoming part of God's family. This man sent representatives to the apostle to extend the invitation. The representatives had to travel one or two days to find the apostle.

Meanwhile, God induced a trance on the apostle, in order to send him a message about what his attitude and heart really was toward all peoples. And he timed the trance with the arrival of the representatives, as well as another message. All of this to convince the apostle that the common understanding of God's law was wrong. In effect, he was convincing the apostle to break the law, so that God's love could break the barrier of narrow legalistic assumptions.G  

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