You know the love I have for you, and therefore, because of this love, I need to write to you concerning what I have learned. The Gospel. Before you through this letter down after reading a ‘Church word’, hear me out. Recently while reading portions of the Bible, I stumbled across this statement, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind and with all your strength.’ The second is like this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
I admit, I do not understand all of what this is saying, but I feel as though I have a good guess. If the only way to be saved is to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, then, to put it loosely, I’m screwed, and not only me, but you, and all the rest of the world as well. I don’t even love myself with this kind of love; let alone anyone or anything else! As I read these words, my mind is filled with all the atrocities committed over the past century.
The murder of millions under the Hitler’s Nazi party, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands under countless African dictators, Stalin, Lenin, Mussolini all these men claiming there is no God, and executing the opposition. If then when we say there is no God and we treat mankind as these men did, it forces me to conclude there is a God. For if the godless can gouge out the eyes of innocent children, repeatedly rape and then murder women, and slaughter a family simply for being of a different class, what can the God believer do? What can a man who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength do? A man who loves his neighbor as himself, what can he do?
As these thoughts sped through my mind, I kept coming back to my previous conclusion: I don’t even love myself the way I should love God, how can anyone possibly live such a radical life? But I was forgetting a major piece of the puzzle. I had forgotten to consider the source, the man who spoke these words.
Jesus, if the Christians claims about this man are right, then in this man we see this love lived out. If, indeed, Jesus is God then it would make since that only Jesus could love God the way He deserves, and indeed commands to be love. For I’m right that no man can love the way he is commanded to love. But Christianity claims that Jesus is no mere man, that he is God. Thus God can love God the way God commands to be loved. However, this still left me at a loss. Yes, God can love himself the way he commands, but man can’t. This idea still leaves man in a terrible plight. God can love himself in a saving fashion, but man can’t. Somehow man must come to the place where he can love God the way he commands, and still be man. At this point desperation was setting in, my mind was zipping out statements left and right, ‘No one can do this; no one is capable of this form of love; if God is real then he is demanding too much; He is wanting the stars from the dirt.’ And this is where my heart and mind was left for quiet sometime. That is until I read about the other side of the Christian view of Jesus. He is not only God, but also man.
Jesus is also man. The Christian view of Jesus is that he is both God and man, fully man and fully God, the perfect God-Man. Therefore in Jesus, and in Jesus alone, if the Christian is right, can this kind of love by lived out. A man can love God the way God commands. However this still leaves a problem. The God-Man can love God the way he commands but I, a simple man, cannot. But in came the doctrine of substitution before my mind could flounder. The God-Man died, as a substitute. A substitute for me, for if Christians are right, then I deserve Hell simply for not loving God the way he commands. Therefore Jesus (The God-Man) came to take my punishment on the cross, so that I could be saved from Hell. By doing this Jesus became our Mediator, and in so doing, positionally made me love God the way he commands. Allow me flesh this out a little, positionally and practically.
Positionally I stand before God as Jesus does, with perfect love for God. Practically I am still a man deserving of Hell, but because of Jesus’ substitution God’s justice was appeased, and because Jesus is the Mediator God sees me as he sees Jesus, full of love.
All of my thinking on these matters was solidified when I came across this passage in the gospel of Matthew. “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them… (Matthew 5:17)” Jesus, this God-Man, could be the only one to fulfill the law. As I explained earlier, only God could fulfill his commands, and only man needed to fulfill it, thus the God-Man. The one who made himself a substitute and a mediator. The one who made propitiation of the just wrath of God against us, an unloving people.
All of this to explain that Jesus is what we need; the Gospel is that Jesus did what we could not do. He lived the life we could not live, and died the death we should have died. He did. We didn’t. And because I now believe this I must pass it to you for if I believe this, and also believe that those who don’t believe this will go to Hell, then I must truly hate you to not tell you. Therefore I write with a conviction of these matters, that Jesus is the Christ that Jesus is the Savior that Jesus is the God-Man, through whom we are saved.
Thus the questions of what can a man who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength do for the world, is posed wrongly, and needs to be re-phrased; what can a God-Man who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength do for the world? The answer is clear; He can save the world from itself. Culturally this view would change nothing, but people would love each other, because in the Gospel they would see the love Jesus had for them, love that died for them. Therefore loving one’s neighbor would become far more easy because the question of why should I love them finds its answer; because Jesus, in the gospel, loved me, his enemy, to the point of death on a cross.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
"After making purification for sins. [After being beaten to a pulp. After being scourged 'till his back fluttered like ribbons. After having a crown of thorns shoved into his head. After being nailed to a tree he created by men he sustained. After having the sins of mankind laid on his shoulders. After the Father turned his face away. After dying. after rising. After crushing the Serpent's head.] He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high."