GNB 2.51

March 1, 2023


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ Jesus. It is the power of God to bring salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew and then to the Greek [read ‘to the rest of the world].” (Romans 1.16)


As we spend more time reflecting on that mission and purpose which Jesus said was His: “I have come to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19.10), we must bear in mind the possibility of two courses. As I have mentioned, it is most difficult to truly love anyone else, friend or foe, if we do not love ourselves. I am not speaking of narcissism which is “an infatuation with one’s self bound with the belief that everyone else should feel about you as you do yourself.” I am speaking of loving one’s self as God indeed loves us. The greatest modelling of that love of God was made incarnate in Jesus as the Christ. What extreme measure, how great a love, did God take in order to express His sincere desire to show us He cares. It would be so easy to believe that God does not care. I am not speaking of “why do bad things happen to good people” God does not care. I am speaking of the lie fomented by the Enemy of God and His people, Satan the Accuser. In order to truly embrace an understanding of the lies of the Accuser, I would urge you to accept a definition of “good” which is proposed in the original language in which the story was written. In that language “good” meant purposeful, useful, capable of accomplishing that for which God intended. So, in the Creation story of the Hebrew nation from the beginning of time found in Genesis, chapter 1, we hear God declare at the end of a day’s work the affirmation “And it was good.” You just have to love it when a plan comes together. At the end of the “sixth” day of God’s creative work which culminated with the forming of man and woman in the very image of the Godhead, He declared “And it was very good.” Isn’t it good to know that God’s belief in us is that we are not just good? God believes and commits Himself to the “very good” that we are. Hear again Dr. Schuler’s “Believe in the One who believes in you.” It is that understanding of “good” that helps us to see the lie of Satan in the garden for what it truly is. He accuses God before Adam and Eve of not being good. The intention was to convince Adam through Eve that disobeying God and promoting himself as an “equal to or greater than” God is what was truly “good.” In other words, Satan’s desire is to dethrone God with humankind. Of course, that can’t be done. But, humanity has been attempting to do that very thing for aeons. How can God’s purpose be to overthrow Himself? Why would it be His purpose to create humanity in His image, that of the Godhead, and give them the purpose, duty and passion to be equal or greater than Himself? How can the creation ever exist beyond that of the Creator? Without question, Satan was up to “no good.”

God, on the other hand, is always “up to good.” It is the very nature of love to do good to those who are near you. What is that old saying, “Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer.” Jesus may have said that in this way, “Love your enemies, do good to those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you.” (Luke 6.27-28) And watch what happens when you take the presence of the “serpent” out of curse. Remove the “ssssss” and you are left with cure. What would that cure be but “forgiveness in mercy and grace.” That is the good that we are intended to do for those who are near to us or are drawn near to us. We can become the flame of God’s love fueled by our acknowledgment of God’s mercy and grace in and over our lives. That flame draws the “moth” to the flame. Oh, and the moth perishes? But, in the spiritual fire of God’s love there is the purifying of one’s soul which leads to the transformation of being born again. Purifying can be another word for “cure.” Jesus warned, “Beware of the enemy who believes that killing the body will silence the truth. Be aware but do not fear them because they cannot kill the soul. Beware more of the One who holds sway over the body and the spirit who reveals the truth in all its fullness. He is the One whom you should fear [respect in awe and wonder.]” (Matthew 10.28) And because of God’s commitment to love us as He loves Himself (respects without question to the truth He cannot be anything other than God), there had to be that sense of justice. The transgression of the Serpent (once again) and of Adam and Eve had to be addressed. All three were then expelled from the Garden of Eden in its purity into the world where the fulfilling of their mission and purpose would be more challenging. We continue to face those same challenges today as those in the world (especially under the influence of the Accuser) struggle to affirm “the lie is the truth…God is not good” or at least not better than us! Even Jesus declared that “equality with God was not something to be pursued.” Jesus acknowledged God was His Father and He was God’s Son. They existed in harmony and thus had all things in common. But, Jesus had nothing if it were not for God being God and Father of us all. That is why when He was addressed by the rich young ruler as “Good Teacher,” He responded “Why call Me good when there is none so good as Yahweh Elohim?” Jesus loved God so much because He knew that God loved Him so much. How easy it was then for Jesus to love “us” as He loved Himself who was loved by the God who is only good! And thus He called His disciples to come to terms with “loving themselves” as God loved them. Even more so, He commanded them to thus “love one another.” Isn’t it time for us to come to similar terms if we are indeed to demonstrate the goodness of God in His mercy and grace? Isn’t this the “good” work we are intended to do as we pursue fulfilling the commission given to us as disciples of Christ? Something to think about.


Father, You have loved us in such a good way we dare not imagine to live in another other fashion than to love You and one another. We commit ourselves to doing that better each day starting today in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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