“God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.” – Julian of Norwich
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2 Timothy 1:8
Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.
St. Paul is cluing us in that standing up for the gospel and preaching the gospel will not be easy.
You will be met with resistance.
The key point I want to make about this is: What is the gospel?
What is the Good News?
Christians differ on this.
Some claim the gospel is that Jesus died for our sins, taking them upon himself and paying the price of death that we deserved due to our sinfulness so that God would then allow us into heaven.
This is known as the substitutionary atonement theory.
Sounds pretty ugly.
I thought God was love itself (1 John 4:8)?
You mean to tell me that God could not forgive us?
God commands us to forgive everyone but God couldn’t do it?
Did God make us imperfect and then condemn us for being imperfect?
Besides, we’ve been evolving for thousands of years.
Did God say one day: “Let’s see who passes the test and accepts that Jesus died for them? If they fail, then they go to hell for eternity.”
I completely reject this as many theologians have over the years including the Franciscan Duns Scotus who lived in the 13th century.
As Richard Rohr put it: “If forgiveness needs to be bought or paid for, then it is not authentic forgiveness at all. Love and forgiveness must be freely given or they do not accomplish their deeply transformative healing. Self-serving love does not change the heart. It must be free and undeserved love or transformation does not happen” (Center for Action and Contemplation, Reflection for Feb. 6, 2019).
Jesus was demonstrating for us what love is all about.
It pours itself out for the beloved.
He was showing us what unconditional love carried out to the end looks like.
When you stand up to those who are unjust but do it in love, you do it with nonviolence. You can be sure this will bring you hardship.
For Jesus (and others like Martin Luther King Jr.), it brought death.
But this gave Jesus the opportunity to give us the most profound example of forgiveness when he said from the cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Forgiveness was given when no one had even asked for it!
This is unconditional love personified.
And by the resurrection we know that death did not win.
This is what saves me every day.
The crux is: we are called to follow this same transformational path.
Listen to the song of the day “Pour Me Out” on the Give Praise and Thanks album by clicking HERE.
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Remember: God loves you!