I am convinced that few things are as damaging to our spiritual growth as applying cause and effect thinking to our relationship with God. Especially as it relates to the reason behind his love for us. Because of our experience with cause and effect in the world around us, we are temped to think and act as if we must do something in order to bring about God’s love. Nothing could be further from the truth.
God loves us because he loves us. Not because we are inherently lovable. Not because we do good deeds. Not because we go to church, read the bible, pray, fast, give to the poor, evangelize, or gather regularly with other believers. He loves us because when he sees us, he sees us clothed in Christ’s righteousness.
“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5 ESV).
The charge to which Paul refers is the confrontation of those in doctrinal error. Love was the driving motive behind the need to dispute what was being taught. His instruction highlights a principle that applies to more than just matters of faith. We ought to approach all disagreements from a posture of love. But many times instead of having loving disputes, we love disputes. We revel in the controversy and the confrontation. We want to be right and force our opinion at the expense of others and the relationship. Instead of listening to what the other person is actually saying, we listen for what will support our position. That’s not a posture that will get the results we want. Nor is it consistent with a pure heart, a good conscience, or a sincere faith.
“Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power” (Psalm 106:8 ESV).
Israel had a tendency to forget. God would intervene in a remarkable way and in a short while it was as if nothing had happened. We too have a tendency to forget. We forget all the little ways God has been faithful to us. We forget the big ways he has been faithful to us. We forget that it was not because of anything we did that he saved us but for the glory of his name and the display of his saving power through sinners like us. We forget but he remembers because, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8 ESV).
No biblical writer heightens our awareness to God’s love more than the Apostle John. In fact, he goes so far as to say that God is love. He perfectly embodies it. To see what true love is like we need only to look at what God says and does.
God is love. He has always been love. And as the author and creator of love, only he can define what it is and what it isn’t.
Racism is birthed out of ignorance – ignorance about another’s culture, background, values, beliefs, and so forth. When people fail to understand these issues in others, the response is predictably bad. Lines are drawn and battles waged. Unthinkable words are spoken and horrific deeds are done. In short, racist people are ignorant. But they aren’t the only ignorant ones. So too are the people who think racism will be eradicated. We ought to know that just by looking at the past. For as long as we have recorded history, people have oppressed those who are different.
That’s because we are all racists at some level. If you think that’s not the case, you don’t know yourself very well. The answer to this problem is not preaching tolerance. Tolerance pushes racism underground. It masks the true condition of our heart with insincere words. But as Jesus warned us, what’s in our heart eventually comes out. The only hope we have for fighting racism is to be radically transformed by a love that we don’t deserve. When this happens, we can begin to genuinely love those who are different. And that is how racism is fought.