This is the fourth part of a series of Advent Sunday night candle meditations.
“When this is all over,” Judah answers, “the tyrant toppled, The killing at an end, all signs of these cruelties long gone, A new government of love will be established in the venerable David tradition. A Ruler you can depend upon will head this government, A Ruler passionate for justice, a Ruler quick to set things right.”
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
“The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.”
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
If I saw my beloved children entangled, oh, God, I would cut away every thicket to reach them with my bare hands, crying out that I was coming for them with every breath. I wouldn’t rest, God help anyone who would stand in my way.
I would tear away all of it until I had them in my arms, I would laugh and I would cry at the moment of rescue, that gut deep howl of at last. I would snatch them up and kiss their sweaty and scratched necks, you’re safe now, I’m here, I’m here.
Here is what I think: Maybe God doesn’t so much want things from us.
Maybe God actually wants things for us.
After all, God imagined us for love and for beauty, for life and for wholeness, for goodness and for mercy. You were made in the image of God. The Holy Spirit stirred over the waters, deep calling to deep.
God yearns like a father, like a mother, for us to be free.
God is Love, yes, and so God wants to lavish friendship and meaning and abundant life upon us, to help us to see this old world like the new world God envisions.
God wants us to be truly human, the way Jesus walked for and with us. Even the wrath of God isn’t something to fear, but something to welcome – that wrath is coming against the very things in us that bring death and destruction.
You, dear one, you’re not being condemned. You’re being rescued.
This whole story is about how you were so loved and you are so loved and you will always be this loved: look, the cosmos testify to it.
God doesn’t want much from me: God wants so much for me.
See there? The difference?
Start there. Start with the Love and with the freedom, with the grace and the wisdom, with the abundance, and suddenly those other things are simply an overflow instead of a sacrifice.
Open your hands and surrender. Cut away the thickets. Hand over your apathy and your loneliness, your never-enough and your too-much. Lay down your sin and the things you do to numb yourself against feeling it all. Toss down your pride and your greed, your selfishness and your me-first, those things aren’t for you. What are they but fetters? Can anything hold up against the fury of a God who wants you free, wants you restored, wants you to see that you are loved loved loved.
God is for you, Love is for you. The only thing God wants from you are the chains that are holding you back. Hand them over, they’ve already been unlocked, you get to walk away free.
God is for us. Never against us.
I’m not working for God. I’m working with God. We’re on a rescue mission, we’re on a setting-things-right all-things-redeemed mission.
We’re not trying to wrestle paltry gifts from a reluctant deity, counting coins in the counting house, viewing our lives as a sheet of checks and balances. You’ve been caught in a war zone, not a bank.
The spreadsheets have been tossed out, there is only welcome now.
The counting house doesn’t exist, there is only the supper of the Lamb and there is room for everyone.
Run towards grace, towards shalom. As the Apostle Paul said in Hebrews 12, throw off everything that holds you back – it is holding you back!
Add everything back, everything that has been stolen will be restored.
God is not serving gifts of stone or snake for the children who ask, there is only a Father of Lights handing out bread and wine to the entire hillside, this is a party.
Open the gates.
1 John 4:9-10
This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
All scripture references are from The Message.
Devotion adapted from this post.