A number of recent conversations about the poison of hypocrisy in the church, coinciding with my reading through Romans, has revealed to me (yet again…how many reminders do I need?) the importance of the foundation of love for the Christian faith (it may be more accurate to say that this reminder hit me like a ton of bricks).
The Gospel, stripped down, bare to its core, is love.
It’s “about” love, yes, but mostly it just IS LOVE. (yeah, the verb).
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
The Gospel is being what Christ was to the world.
It’s giving ultimate forgiveness of sin, forgiveness to the deepest depths, to the furthest, most infinite space existing between East and West.
It’s understanding the ugliest, most hideous side of a person — knowing their sin. It’s raw. It’s about seeing imperfections and yet it’s also about seeing none of them.
It’s seeing instead a beautiful creation; a human you love dearly, and seeing them with infinite forgiveness, close as a sibling.
“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20).
The Gospel is far from easy. I’m not sure it’s even possible for us as humans to be this love.
But I do think we sure as heck should try.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? … Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:32-35)
I’m always frustrated when I hear of people disgusted and turned away by the hypocritical close-mindedness of many Christians and church-goers. I wish we could all strive more tangibly, more noticeably, more clearly toward the love of the Gospel.
I wish we could actually learn that no one is ever good. There is none who lives without the darkness of shame and sin.
Yet, the miracle is that there is none who goes unloved; we are all loved equally and unconditionally; the way a mother loves every child without picking favorites: each is too beautiful testament to life.
I still haven’t learned to consistently show this Gospel love: my judgmental heart betrays me even as I write this.
“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” (Romans 2:1)
But, ‘The Gospel is love’ is what I do know to be true — even if I don’t always live it. And I find myself returning to it again and again, like a disobedient child who never learns.
And, my goodness, it’s SO simple.
The Gospel is love.
It is Grace.
It is another’s holiness, righteousness and justice glorified.
and to Eternity.
It is never anything about us or for us or because of us.
We, the flesh-consumed sinners, can’t seem to get that.
“Let God be true though every one were a liar.” (Romans 3:4)
I can’t seem to rest in the unconditionality of this forgiving, beautiful, victorious love. And I ask for forgiveness in the past, the present and (let’s be serious) the future where I fail to remember this central truth.
“For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19).