Can I tell you honestly from the start that God is a God Who invites?
He offers INVITATION to believe, the LOVING, Living True God of the Bible is in fact Who He says He is, both in His Word and via millions of believers’ experience through the ages.
English musicologist, composer, organist, pastor and religious hymnody genius Erik Routley reportedly said that the worst of the evangelistic music sounded like a command to conform while the best of it sounded like an invitation to believe.
Yes and Amen.
Who among us, myself included, doesn’t favor an invitation over a command?!!
Causing people to be uncomfortable, to squirm, to be repulsed at either myself or any message or lyric I bring isn’t anywhere NEAR to what I would call “having a good time”! Trust me, if and when it happens it gives me no pleasure to cause discomfort. Then again, at times it is essential just as it is essential for -me- to be discomforted when God via others or directly, brings truth and correction my way.
Granted, we prefer an invitation.
We are in a day when it is nearly intolerable for both people of faith and nearly equally, full-on atheists to hear anything of commandments, whether ten, two -or any.
Indeed, we read things like the following all through the Book:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him.” John 3.17
Over and over we recognize the compassion and desire of God, that “Gracious and merciful is the LORD, slow to become angry, and overflowing with gracious love.” Ps. 145.8
Then things like this pop out: “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’ Ezekiel 33.11
Note here he is calling His Own chosen people “wicked” and calling them out for -their- evil ways as a loving father would his son or daughter that he truly cares about!
Oops. Negative stuff within… where’s the exit, ‘eh? I hear that and have said it myself.
Then we also read (“it says, it also says”) “Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent” Acts 17.30
A command is of course, not an option though one almost always has the practical option to disobey.
Um, there’s another word you see all through the Bible including New Testament, Jesus’ Own words, apostle Paul, Peter, John, James, on and on. Stuff about obedience and disobedience to the Lord Himself is clear… too clear. We don’t like such language or implication that there is someone whom we must obey in a love-based relationship. But there it is.
I have quoted the following here before, but it is so core to a follower of Jesus that it must be quoted again:
v. 15 “If you love me, keep my commands.”
v. 23, 24 “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
v. 31 (Jesus speaks of the coming of the devil and finishes by saying the following)- “that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”
v. 9, 10 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
v. 14 “You are my friends if you do what I command.”
v. 17 “This is my command: Love each other.”
I can hear the reader thinking: “Of COURSE, Christ’s command is to LOVE people, sheesh!! End of story dude!” Yes. And the rest of His deeds, words and the words of the New Testament writers unpack what love is and is not. Guess what? Love and obedience to God in genuine, daily relationship are so linked throughout the Book one cannot separate the one from the other and have either. Read that again please.
All of this sounds like law, like… well, like a COMMAND we are all (including me) plenty self-centered and fully rebellious enough to break. Which, in part, is why Jesus came as the perfect, sinless Lamb of God “Who takes away the sins of the world” as John the baptist so graciously stated. We don’t earn God’s love by commandment. Neither do we love Him or others by ignoring or breaking them.
God IS love. God the Son Who is LOVE COMMANDS -and in fact has every right to.
Genuine fellowship with Father, Son, Spirit are not only a matter of faith, but active, loving obedience.
Trust me, like you I sin daily. I also repent daily and seek Him daily for the grace to grow in His grace and love for both Him and others.
THIS is core to a walk rather than mere talk.
Active grace always includes active love, repentance and obedience.
Things to consider. And as always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn