Tuesday, March 6, 2018

God is not our enemy

God is Not Our Enemy

“For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.” (NRSV) Romans 5:10
“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (NIV) Romans 8:34-35
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (ESV) Colossians 1:19-20

            The other side of ‘we are loved’ is ‘God is not our enemy’. Paul makes clear in Romans we were reconciled while we were still God’s enemies. We were enemies of God, not the other way around. Paul tells the Corinthians “…God…reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…”. But neither Paul nor God Himself stops there: “…[God] entrust[ed] the message of reconciliation to uswe are ambassadors for Christ…God…[is] making his appeal through us…be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ((NRSV, Italics mine). God is not reconciling Himself to us, as though some magic switch needed to be flipped before God could love us again. The estrangement is on our side and God is taking steps-powerful steps-to end it; to prove He is not our enemy.
            Luke puts it this way: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36 (ESV; Italics mine). Who are the ungrateful and the evil? Pretty much everyone. To whom is God reconciling to Himself? Pretty much everyone. Now before you all lose your collective minds and start accusing me of universalism, consider Jesus’ own words:For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:16-18 (NRSV; Italics mine). The only thing keeping us from God is unbelief.
The late R.C. Sproul once remarked most people believe in God, they just don’t want Him telling them what to do. Or, as John says, “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.” John 3:19-20 (NRSV; Italics mine). Paul puts an interesting spin on this idea of hostility to God in Romans 6:13 “No longer present your members to sin as instruments [or weapons; see NRSV text note] of wickedness…”. Stop waging war against God. Stop building up a wall between you and God; wage war against wickedness. Tear down the wall. But consider this-these people who hide from the light, who wage war against God, who build walls of separation, are the very ones Christ died for. Why would God do that if He were our enemy?
            I whole-heartedly disagree with those who portray God as some sort of cosmic judge incapably of loving any of us until we say the right words or repeat some magic incantation. If God only loves and accepts us after conversion why does Paul write “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 (NRSV; Italics mine). Our God does not require blood, He longs for love. The sin issue has been dealt with-let it go. Now is the time to “…present [our]selves to God…as [weapons] of righteousness.” (NRSV) Romans 6:13. Now is the time to be the best humans we can be.
Peace JRG

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