Not long ago I was raised the question, Is God’s love for us separate from His forgiveness? The simple answer for me is the two are distinct yet you can’t have one without the other. When I was much younger I read a book entitled, Your God Is Too Small. The basic premise of this book is our tendency to frame our understanding of God in totally human terms, because that’s all we know. To a point that’s good but it becomes a problem when our human terms are no longer broad enough to handle God. We can’t fathom the depth of His love because in human terms we run out of understanding before we get to the limits of His love. 

When I was young I was taught that Christ died for my sins and that I was to receive God’s forgiveness, live a Christlike life and then spend eternity in heaven when I died. However, if I chose to turn away from God then I was no longer accepting His forgiveness and would spend eternity in hell. I know some of you reading this are not understanding the problem right now. Here’s my basic problem with this: I believe it goes against God’s character of love and it diminishes the power of the cross of Christ.

I was recently having a conversation with someone and as I shared this with her she said, “so what you’re saying is that there’s no punishment for your sin.” To which I responded, “there has been punishment, and that punishment was received once and for all by Christ on the cross.” Admittedly this line of thinking goes against our human sense of fairness and justice. However, for me to consider the possibility of diminishing the power of the cross and Christ’s forgiveness by saying I can undo His forgiveness seems like the most arrogant position I could possibly take. In addition, it puts us in a position of jumping through hoops to earn love and forgiveness. Even reducing this to human terms it’s hard to imagine a loving father doing something like that to His children.

So, where does this leave us? It leaves us forgiven. It leaves us at a point of not having to do anything to earn God’s love or forgiveness. It leaves us in a state of freedom. It leaves us as the recipients of God’s unmerited favor. It leaves us with a God much larger than our own own human understanding can even begin to fathom. Now what?

Happy new year! It seems like such a long time since my last post. With so much happening during the month that has passed I’m almost tempted to do a recap, but I’ll refrain. The most significant thing during this last month was the marriage of our son to Claire Seward. The wedding required us to journey to Idaho and many months ago we made the decision to drive the 1425 miles from our home in Olathe KS to the bride’s hometown of Nampa ID. A decision that made good sense when we made it last July, however let me encourage you to never drive across Wyoming (or most any northern state) in the winter. I’ll avoid the details but suffice it to say there was a single 50 mile stretch that took 4 hours to cover.

As with any road trip there was plenty of time for thought and in spite of the white knuckle periods this trip was no exception. As a result of those streams of consciousness I have many things I’ll be writing about in upcoming posts. Some of these streams will flow in the form of questions and others will be more statement or belief driven. Here’s a sneek peek:

 

  • Are God’s love and His forgiveness separate from one another?
  • The mantle of the in-law
  • Scripture and theology: Which one grows out of the other?
  • We tend to define God by our ability to understand Him
  • The forgiving power of the cross of Christ
  • Christianity: With or without hoops
  • Boutique churches
  • Why do we gather each week for a service of worship?
  • How do our personalities impact our preferences when it comes to church attendance?
  • Can too many choices be a bad thing?

Well, there’s a sampling. It should be a fun journey to flesh-out these thoughts and others in the coming weeks. I hope you had a great holiday season and were able to spend at least some of it with people you love and cherish.