Goodness vs. gracious
Why do you love God? As silly or sacrilegious as it may sound, this question is the fundamental question behind our belief. If you claim that you’re laying your life down—willing to take on persecution, imprisonment, and even death—then you better be in love with this guy. I’ve been in worship services where students are throwing their hands up, dancing, chanting, jumping, and yelling that they love God, and I can’t help but just stand there wondering, why? Do they really love God, or are they just riding an emotional high from the circumstances that have happened today? Sometimes I wonder the same about myself. Our generation has been caught up in the “emotional” gospel, where our emotions drive our relationship with Christ. I remember telling my youth pastor countless times, “I just don’t feel God’s presence,” or “I feel like He’s not there,” until I came to the realization that our relationship with Christ is not dependent on our emotions, it’s dependent on His faithfulness. If my faith was dependent on how I “felt,” then today I might believe God is good because I just got a second date with that girl. But tomorrow I would doubt his existence after hearing about the passing of a loved one. Our relationship with Him has to be bigger than our emotions, and yet I feel as if we ride this roller coaster just waiting for the next spiritual high.
Still, I know of people who are genuinely in love with God and will praise Him with their last breath, and I am truly jealous of this. Again I ask, “Why?” A common answer I’ve heard is, “Well look at everything you have been blessed with. Look at how much He has given you.” And without trying to pump my own tires, I know that I am more than blessed. I attend the most expensive school in Canada; I have my own car; I’ve got more shoes then I can count on my hands and feet, some of the best friends a guy could ask for, a loving and supportive family, talents and abilities and opportunities that are beyond anything I could ever dream of. But is this why I love God? If I was stripped of everything, like Job was, then what? Would I stop loving Him? So I’m at a crossroads—understanding that I have everything I could ever want and yet this can’t be the reason I love God.
We all know God wants a relationship with us, but he doesn’t just want lip service; He’s after our heart. As I have been wrestling with this I’ve discovered that our love cannot be reliant on us or anything materialistic that we have been given; that can all change in the blink of an eye, just as it did for Job. So it must be dependent on the only consistent thing in the universe that isn’t susceptible to change: Him. But which part, what characteristic?
The answer has existed since the beginning of time, but I only realized it now: Amazing Grace. Too often we turn our relationship with Christ into a business transaction; we try to earn God’s grace by checking off the Christian check boxes and hoping in return we will receive God’s love and favour. But the truth is, there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn or lose God’s grace. Contrary to what your pastor has probably told you, you don’t need to read the Bible and pray everyday to be a Christian. Obedience and faithfulness is a reaction to love. The love comes first.
A good friend of mine put it this way: you could sit on your couch for the rest of your life doing nothing but eating chips, and God would love you just as much as if you went out and converted 100,000 people in one day. *mind blown.
There is absolutely NOTHING we can do that will make God love us any more or any less. No matter how many times we fall, stumble, or continually fail, His love never fails. And I’ve realized that this is why I love God. Not because of anything I have, but because of this free gift. We sing about this on Sunday mornings, but I feel as though we have never fully grasped this idea. If we did, our lives would be truly changed.