“Forgiveness was a foreign word. Grace was inconceivable… She hoped to please him by working like a slave when all he wanted was her love.”
I am currently reading a book called Redeeming love by Francine Rivers (a great book – so far – I’m only half way through!) which is a powerful retelling of the story of Hosea, The quote above really struck me when I was reading this morning, it struck me because I think this is how so many people understand grace, understand Christianity. That we have to work for God’s love and his favour. That we have to work our way into Heaven.
This is a complete misunderstanding of who God is. God loves us and he longs for is to love Him. And that is all, he doesn’t expect us to DO anything to gain his love. God’s love was there before we were born, and his love is the same all the time. It’s vast, beyond what we can imagination, he loves us so flipping much, but it doesn’t change, so when we do try and do works to gain his love, the love he has for us doesn’t go up, and when we do things wrong, it doesn’t go down at all, not one little bit (amazing huh?!) This is really difficult to get our head around but if we are trying to gain God’s love by works our attitude is in the wrong place.
However, if because of our love for God our actions are changed and we start doing things because of God, this is what it’s supposed to look like. Not that our works are to GAIN love but for love to CHANGE our works. This is what I want for myself, for those around me, for the young people I work with.
Ephesians 2: 8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
For the past month I have heard and explored the story of the lost son, or the prodigal son, found in Luke 15: 11-32, a great number of times, it’s one of those times where you say “I think God is trying to say something to me here!” This makes me think of the other son, the one serving his Dad, day in, day out. Towards the end of the story when the other son has returned home to his father, who has thrown him a great party for his return, the other son, the one working away in the field becomes angry and jealous. He says to his Dad “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never give me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf him!” (Luke 15: 29-30) I don’t know about you but I think this son has got the wrong idea of how to gain his Fathers love, it’s not by the work he’s doing in the fields and the slaving away he’s been doing but it’s just the declaration to his Dad that he loves him, and maybe he didn’t tell him? Maybe he didn’t ask for a goat? This is the same for us and God, we need to declare that we love him, and through this wish to serve him, not serve him and expect to gain love.
I, for one, do not want my young people to understand this misconception of grace and God’s love. I have the challenge in my everyday to portray the true meaning of God’s love and grace, but I take this challenge with a heart that is excited and anticipating revelation for many of the young people I work with and further revelation for me and those in my church community.
His grace and love is enough.
God loves you full stop