Test of True Religion God's Law of Love 

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A Confusing picture

 
Dusk settles over the city of London as golden rays of sunlight gently caress trees and rooftops alike. The soft natural light then slowly retreats before the enveloping darkness, being but a brief interlude before artificial light illuminates the city like a Christmas tree. As the air thins out and pollution no longer asphyxiates the streets of London, a Gregorian chant issues forth from behind the walls of an ancient
Monastery. The voices of those chanting harmoniously intertwine, reaching upwards and outwards, proclaiming the majesty and mysteriousness of God, as they seek to express spiritual truth. Elsewhere a Mullah calls the Muslim community to prayer and thousands of men bow down to recite endless prayers in submission to Allah.
 
In a different part of the city Jehovah’s Witnesses start to knock on doors, whilst in North London men and women weave their way into the largest Hindu Temple in the Western World. Their hope is that acts of devotion and worship to the gods will make for a better entrance into the new life, thus improving their Karma. Elsewhere a mini-bus full of Buddhists leaves the city to find a quiet space where they hope to enter oneness through meditation and prayer.  Yet do any of these beliefs (excluding those who don’t believe in God) really lead anyone to God and apart from this, what is God like? In all the confusion of differing religion is there a clear picture of what life is all about and who God is? 
 
Many beliefs claim to be the one and only true religion and throughout the history of the world there have been many wars in the name of religion. Yet as we know, might does not prove one is right. So how can we find out which religion (if any!) is right? Or do they all lead to God or the gods?
 

Choose your route to God or the gods?

If we think about it stating that all religions lead to God doesn’t really deal with the problem concerning which religion, if any, is the right one. Instead it presents us with a picture that is not unlike a person who goes to the doctor and after explaining his or her problem sees the doctor get out bottle after bottle of different medicines. The doctor lines up all the medicines on the table in front of the patient and then says, “Go on, you choose what you want to take, I’m not so naïve as to say only one is going to work!”  No seriously ill person is going to take this sort of advice because it just doesn’t add up. Neither does it add up if we say that all religions lead to God or gods because each belief system is so different. 
 
Apart from all of this, stating that all religions lead to God is not really saying anything new. All it does is place yet another belief system in the market place. In doing so we are simply left with yet another choice concerning how we are supposed to approach God or the gods.
 
So how are we to approach God in a way that is going to be acceptable? With so many religions around is there some sort of test that we can apply to them all to see which one (if any!) helps us find our Creator?
 

A test in order to find out what is right?

Examining the different religions has to be a logical way forward since a test is often required in life to find out what is right. For example, nobody sees anything wrong in expecting a teacher to go through a series of tests to find out if they are competent enough to teach. In light of this, let’s ask ourselves if there is some sort of test that we can apply to all religions to find out which one, (if any), points us in the right direction.
 
It is only reasonable to state that if there is to be a test concerning religion (communication and fellowship with God), then it must be God who supplies us with this test. As a Christian I believe that God has done this, and that the test is ‘God’s Law of Love.’ As we progress through this short booklet we are going to see what this test is, how our own thinking cannot have manufactured it and how, through applying the test, we can see which religion, if any, fulfils the law of love.
 

Law and an amazing world

The Bible states that God created a perfect universe (Gen 1:1) from the largest planet down to the finest detail within the atom (Psalm 8:3), and that all the information for our universe was within the mind of God before the creation of the world (John 1:1). What this means for us in that life is not an accident and that you and I are an incredible design – perhaps there really is meaning and purpose to life.
 
God is the architect, and before putting plans into action and beginning the building process an architect thinks through how everything is going to fit together. The architect will also need to know how certain materials work together before he or she begins building. The same would go for a chemist. For example a chemist can’t just put any group of chemicals together and hope for a tablet that cures headaches!
 
Since God created the basic fabric of the universe we realise that, in the mind of God, natural and moral laws must have already been in place before our universe was created. Therefore when God spoke atoms and particles into existence they operated according to laws already set in place. If this were not so, then no two substances coming together would ever act the same way. At the risk of being repetitive let’s think about this again.
Imagine what it would be like taking a penicillin cure for a serious infection if there were no natural laws in place. If there were no laws in chemistry you would have no way of knowing how chemicals would affect your physiology when you took penicillin; you could end up worse off or even dead! The reason we know how substances act/react together is because there is design and order in our universe. God’s laws are in operation and without them there would be absolute chaos. In light of this you are not an accident!
 

Personality

From what we have been looking at so far it is evident that God thinks (Isaiah 55:8), plans (Psalm 33:11) and acts (Mal 2:10) and these are three distinguishing marks of personality. Our world has meaning and purpose. It did not just appear, but was brought into existence by someone with a purpose in mind and  looking at the amazing depth and complexity of life in our world clearly points to a designer as the following comment from Professor Wilder-Smith clearly reveals….
 

“The brain is the most complex structure in the entire known universe. It is by far the most versatile, economical and at the same time the most compact of known computers. Its fuel requirements are the most modest conceivable in relation to its output – it runs on vegetables, fats and protein. This supremely compact and complex structure is built and maintained solely on the basis of coded information stored on one-minute sperm and one ovum. One can scarcely gain even a faint idea of the fantastic degree of miniaturisation of information storage and retrieval present in the cells.”                                                           

                                                                                  
Having seen that there is clear evidence for design in our world (unless you think that your mobile phone is a design yet the million-times more complex fertilised egg is not!) let’s now move on to look at moral law.
 
 

Why society needs laws

                                  
For a society to function properly there needs to be moral laws in place preventing the strong from exploiting the weak, and enabling families and loved ones to grow up in a safe and secure environment.
 
Law, when it is right, just and fair, brings freedom and gives us frameworks to live within that can be beneficial to all. Where there is no law everything descends into chaos and we lose our freedom. For example, if all laws ceased at midnight tonight, think about what could happen. Anyone could steal from us, beat us up, or abuse us in any way they liked. There would be nothing to prevent this from happening (except our own strength), since there are no laws to call people to account, and no criminal justice system to deal with wrongdoing.
 
Even with laws in place we find that people still suffer, so think how much worse it would be without them. Just imagine, for example, your son or daughter going for a walk in a community without any law except the so-called ‘law of the jungle.’ Would you find peace of mind in thinking of them walking around in a lawless society, or would you experience fear and worry and anxiety and a sense of apprehension? A lack of law and order brings chaos in society and bondage to the heart and mind.
 
Laws, when just and fair, are beneficial to us all and it is to a particular law that we now look to as our test for finding out which religion, if any, is the true one.
This law is known as God’s Law of Love and it is found in the Bible and reads like this: ‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12,19; 11:1; 13:3; 30:16; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37,39). 
 
At this point some of us may not want to accept this law as coming from God.  However even if this is the case there is no reason why we should not consider it – after all, everyone can, at the very least,  see the benefit of the second part of the law (love your neighbour as yourself) even if they are not so keen on the first part (love the Lord God). Our purpose is to apply this law of God (to love Him, and our neighbour), to all religions and see which one, if any, passes the test. Which religion fulfils this Law of Love?
 
God’s word reveals that perfect obedience to this Law of Love is the necessary condition to receiving eternal life (Leviticus 18:5); but what is this eternal life? In speaking of life we need to understand that eternal life is not just about life after we pass from this world. Eternal life speaks of receiving grace and mercy from God and finding a new home with Him here and now. It understanding this we see that eternal life is not just about the future but is an expression of a quality of life here and now with our heavenly Father. Eternal life is what God promises to those who come to Him through Jesus.
 

Life!

Life, as God promises it, speaks of the physical and the spiritual conflating, like two pieces of rope entwining, and producing great strength. This strength and freedom of living springs from the presence of a heavenly Father, and a gift received through His Son. So let’s just reflect on that for a moment before we move on.
 

Love

 
One of the verses in the Bible that can really made us think about what love is, is as follows….
 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

                                                                                                  1 Corinthians 13:4-7
 
The love that is spoken of in the Bible speaks of an act of the will whereby a person gives out of all that they are, purely for the benefit of another. Therefore this love is a love that actively seeks to encourage and build up the life of the one loved. The Bible says we were made for loving relationships. We were made for a relationship with God as our heavenly father and a relationship with God helps us understand what spirituality is all about.
 

Spirituality

A man or woman finds true spirituality, (a relationship with God) in knowing God’s love and seeking to keep the Law of Love in loving response to what has been received. However this desire to keep of the Law of Love is in no way meritorious (it does not earn us salvation) and is a natural response to love received. We learn about love by receiving God’s love (1 John 4:8) and in His love we can grow to maturity, and express this love spontaneously and unconditionally as a natural attitude of heart and mind.
 
When laws are broken

We were created to live in a relationship with God as our heavenly father but have fallen far short of our calling. We fail to live by God’s Law of Love, and so there are consequences, as indeed there is punishment when breaking the laws of the land.
 
Those who do not like the idea of punishment might need to think of it this way: it would be irresponsible of parents to allow their small child to run across the road without looking, just because they do not believe in instructing or disciplining a child. God disciples us because He loves us; He acts with the love of a Father towards His children.
 
Parents encourage children towards maturity by helping them gain an understanding of life in such a way that they can make conscious decisions based on correct information. The possibility of punishment reveals that there are consequences to our actions and should make us think more deeply before we act.  However, as we shall see, man’s position is far worse than that of a rebellious child who, under correct instruction, can turn to new ways of thinking.
 

Flawed lives?

The Bible says that we are flawed and rebellious due to sin, and a long way from our true home with God whilst living in a powerful and dynamic universe belonging to God.  This universe has natural and moral laws that enable us to have a certain amount of freedom.
 
In breaking the laws that God has put in place we damage our lives and sometimes the lives of those around us as well. This is because we are really destroying ourselves through ignoring God’s laws, rather than breaking the actual law. For example, if you were to jump off the Eiffel Tower you would prove the law of gravity and kill yourself in doing so – you don’t really break the law of gravity!
 
God’s perfect law is an expression of His character and love and is present to protect us and enable us to grow. His laws always remain the same and need to be adhered to if man is to live the life God calls him to. Yet, as we have already mentioned, we have failed with scripture saying that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out” (Deuteronomy 27:26).
 
At this point we must be careful. We could erroneously end up thinking that God is threatening man by saying, “Love me or I’m going to squash you.” This is not what is being said; it being more the case of ‘what you sow is what you will reap.’ (Gal 6:8)  For example, if a parent says to a child, “Don’t cross the road without looking or a car will hit you one day,” it is not a threat. It is merely spelling out the consequences of the child’s own actions.
 
God informs us that if we do not adhere to the Law of Love then we have placed ourselves under condemnation and will suffer the consequences we have brought upon ourselves. Yet no one outside of Christ has ever fulfilled this law so what hope do we really have?

 
We are not an adequate reference as to how life is to be lived

By regarding ourselves as an adequate reference point to life and living by our own ideas, we find there is a price to pay. An obvious example of this would be the drug addicts who assumes drugs are ok and then find themselves in great difficulty.
 
When we look around the world today and see the wars, broken families and fragmented lives we begin to see the fruit of ignoring God’s law and God’s love.  At the moment the world is being allowed to continue, yet there will come a time when judgment will fall as all are called to account. So is there any hope for us?
 

Hope

If there is to be any hope then logically that hope must come from the person or religion which fulfils God’s Law of Love. The religion that fulfils God’s Law of Love has to be the one and only true religion, and so we need to find out which one passes the test (if any) because none of us have fulfilled the call to obey God’s law.
 
Not one of us has loved God and our fellow man from our hearts all the time and our imperfections and rebellious ways mean we can never meet the requirements of God’s law in our own strength; we are just too weak and flawed. Trying to be perfect in our own strength would be a little like expecting an eighty-year-old to win the 100 metres at the next Olympic Games; it’s just not going to happen. So how can we get right with God?
 
Many religions want to offer us all manner of practice and good works that they believe we need to embrace in order to gain favour with God.  However, if God’s perfect Law of Love is the test of all religion, then it seems as if we are without hope (Rom 3:23). This is because love is something that comes from the heart and mind, and God looks to the heart and mind and not outward actions which can fool us. For example many people can give the appearance of doing commendable things for us, whilst inwardly harbouring a grudge. God cannot be fooled this way. He looks at the heart and isn’t fooled by empty lip service or shallow, meaningless actions.
 

The failure of good works

Man is an imperfect being and totally unable to meet the requirements of a perfect law, due to being a sinner separated from God. Apart from this, man could never work for his salvation, even if he were not a sinner. This is because working for personal gain does not correspond to loving unconditionally, which is the only way to fulfil the Law of Love. It would be more like a person professing love and concern for others, whilst really seeking to do everything for his own benefit – like helping someone just to get mentioned in their Will when they die, only much worse. The world is full of people like this; people who live for personal gain, often manipulating and trampling over others in their desire to gain the best as they look after number one.
 
In light of this, any religion that offers good works as a means of getting on God’s right side automatically fails the test of true religion and reveals little more than a flawed belief system. We can build our religious buildings, have leaders who think they are ‘holier than thou’, go on any number of pilgrimages and deny self in so many ways, yet ultimately all this will fail.  We can empty our minds and try and become one with the cosmos yet this does no more than leave us isolated and constantly opting out of life as we seek that illusive peaceful feeling that makes us think everything is ok.
 
Opting out of life or seeking to earn acceptance through good works does not work. It fails the test of true religion because good deeds given in order to pay for wrongdoing will fail to achieve their objective and not doing anything is ultimately a selfish act.
 
Good works are as ineffective as a thief giving the judge hearing his case a bunch of flowers in order to be set free from the consequences of his actions. How would we like a known thief living next door to us after a trial where he was pronounced guilty, yet let off because he gave the judge some flowers?  No one would accept this sort of judgment.
 
To come before God with our own good works is to attempt to bring God down to our level, and it just cannot be done. Apart from this, we are not capable of living by our own rules, let alone God’s Law of Love, on which thinking and behaviour is to be based.
 
There is no way by which we have ever been able to pay the penalty for our wrongdoing and there has never been a religious system that provides a way for us to keep God’s Law of Love. Yet we are not left without hope. There is someone out there who loves us.
 

A Law tells us something about the Lawgiver
Human laws are undeniable evidence of both the existence and character of lawgivers, since the types of laws they give tell us something about the lawgiver. For example, a law stating we have to buy shares in all companies owned by government ministers may well be telling us that the lawmakers are selfish, abusive and out for personal gain. Since laws tell us something about the nature of the lawmaker it stands to reason that only a God who is love by nature could have made the Law of Love.

Apart from this, we have already seen that the true nature of love is to give of oneself to others unconditionally. In other words the heart of love is about meeting the needs of a loved one, rather than the needs of self, regardless of the cost. God is not a hypocrite telling us to love others whilst not loving people Himself, and His Law of Love assures us that He will do the very best He can for us. God’s love means that He seeks to meet the needs of others in the best way possible.
 

“The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”

Psalm 145:9
 
Because God is perfect love, and because this love reaches out to help others, we have hope. We cannot reach God ourselves, and we cannot come out from condemnation, yet God has come to our side to help us. As we have already said, there is no religion that can keep the Law of Love, yet the Bible speaks of God as the one who loves in such a way that He is willing to help man out from under condemnation even though He is the wronged party.
 

Gods’ love is not like our love

The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8) and not that love is God, because this would leave us with a flawed picture of God.
Our idea of love is formed from the relationships around us, and our ability to love is often dependent on others returning our love. Unfortunately, many people tell us that they love us but then end up letting us down and even hurting us. Because of this we often end up building ideas of what love is supposed to be like from our experiences. The result of this is that our concept of love is so often flawed. This then is why the Bible shows us that love is not God (our idea of love), but that ‘God is love’ We also see from the Bible that our Father’s love is unconditional and self-sacrificial because scripture also says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning (covering) sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). 
 
God does not love us because of what we can do for Him by way of good works. Neither did God create us to make up for anything lacking within Himself because God is eternal love within His own Being. God created a world and placed man within creation so that mankind could benefit from His love. He does not need us and is not dependent on our world in any way. He loves us because He simply chooses to love and we have been created by God to benefit from this unconditional love.


Unconditional Love

A small glimpse of the nature of unconditional love can be seen in looking at a parent’s love for a newborn baby. The baby can do no more than lie in his or her parent’s arms and make huge demands on their time, effort and finance; yet the child is still loved. One only has to look at how far parents will go for their children no matter how old they become to see this love in action. God love is even greater than this and He loves us even though our sinful ways mean that we have become separated from Him. We have built barriers around our lives yet God still reaches out to all who will listen. Love always seeks to reach out to a loved one, regardless of cost. God is going to fulfil His own Law of Love.   
 
The Bible says that God is not only like a father (Psalm 68:5) but is also absolute perfection (Isaiah 40:25-6) in every way and whose holiness is never compromised (1 Peter 1:16). In view of this, how is it that the penalty for wrongdoing can be paid without resulting in everlasting separation from God?  Simply telling people that it doesn’t matter if laws are broken is not going to be an adequate answer and leaves us with no law at all. Apart from this, how would you like it if everyone just got away with everything? What sort of society would this produce?
         
The answer to the question, “How can we escape condemnation and be restored into a relationship with God?” is found in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). In love Jesus willingly gave His life so that we could find forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
 
Jesus came and lived a perfect life purely out of love for His Father and in doing so showed us God’s nature and character and what a relationship with God should be like. Having done this in such a powerful way, and being able to return to heaven at any time, Jesus then chose to ‘go the second mile’ and give His perfect life for others (John 3:16-17). This is unconditional love.
 
Unconditional love speaks of a love that is spontaneous and unmotivated and is the most striking feature of God’s love (so clearly seen in Jesus). In seeing this amazing love we look in vain for an explanation of God’s love in the lives of those who are the object of this love. Surely there must be something in man that makes God love them? Yet there is nothing.
 
All mankind is flawed; no one is better than any other, or more spiritual or nearer to God. Therefore the only grounds for God’s love for us can be found within Himself. God’s love is spontaneous and does not look for anything in man that could be viewed as motivation for love. Therefore when we say that God loves man we are not saying that God’s love of man is an indication of what man is like. Instead, this amazing love clearly reveals what God is like.
 
God is an independent self-sufficient Being who is love by nature (1 John 4:8) and not dependent on creation in order to be able to love. He is eternal love (1 John 1:2) and, as already said, his love for man does not point to who man is, but what he is like.
 

Receiving God’s love

God loves us but are we able to receive this love? In order to receive Gods love we must come to Him through prayer and in repentance (Acts 3:19) and faith (Eph 2:8) trusting in all that Jesus has done. No amount of good works (Eph 2:9) or self-righteousness match up to the life of Jesus or put us right with God.  No one who lives by his or her own concept of good works can find reconciliation with God because he or she is outside of Christ and rejecting God’s personal provision for man which is given at great cost.
 

The Law of Love Provides Evidence of Supernatural Revelation

The Law of Love is completely beyond the power and ability of any our attempts to fulfil it.  In fact it is so contrary to human nature that we can be certain that it did not originate with man, because obedience to it requires sinless perfection.
Apart from this, it is not possible for someone to have forged the Law of Love. This is because forgers (creators of false information) produce forged documents for the purpose of self-gain. They are not in the least concerned with love for anyone but self. Forgers do things to benefit themselves, yet the Law of Love does not benefit them because they are forging a document and standard that no one can keep. Why would any forger do this? From this we see why the Law of Love has to have come from God.
 
The Law of Love speaks of the inner motives of heart and mind, and goes far beyond outward actions, which can be deceptive. God requires love as the supreme motive behind all our actions and as the inspiration behind all our thoughts and words. Whatever is not motivated by love of God is transgression – it breaks the first and greatest commandment of His Law. Understanding this, and knowing God’s demands effectively removes all claims to self-righteousness and reliance on any form of good works for salvation. As has been mentioned before, all too often a person can look and act in one way, yet be thinking and scheming in another. The ‘good works’ of others can fool us all, yet God does not look at the things man looks at; He looks beyond the outer action to the heart and mind (1 Sam 16:7). 
 

“You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”                                                                                           Luke 16:15

 
 
Perfect obedience to God’s Law of Love is the only means of justification; but what is justification? In justification the demands of the law are satisfied and not waived. If God speaks of us as being justified then we have been declared right with Him. But how could this be so? How can we be declared right with God? 
 
 

Jesus – God stooping low

We are declared right with God through accepting a Saviour who is willing to charge all His perfect work to our account. But who is this Saviour who fulfils the Law of Love?
 
If there were to be a Saviour who would stand in man’s place on behalf of him, this Saviour would have to be a perfect representative. This person’s life would have to match the perfect sinless nature of the Law of Love so that his or her life could then be given to pay the price for man’s transgression and be credited to those who put their trust in that life. The only person who has ever done this is the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ.
 
Jesus Christ is the Son of God who stooped low and entered the human race, becoming one of us yet without sin. He then gave his life so that we could find forgiveness and enter into a relationship with God.
 

A short story illustrating what God has done

Two boys grew up in village together, remaining firm friends throughout their adolescence. One of the boys went on to university and eventually became a lawyer, whilst the other worked at odd jobs around the village.
 
The lawyer eventually became a High Court Judge, but the friendship between the two young men remained strong. However one day the odd-job man stole some money and people soon got to hear that it was going to be his friend the judge who would pass sentence on him. Those who heard about the forthcoming case then divided into two camps.
On the one side there were those who thought the Judge would be a good Judge and stick to the rules in passing sentence. But they were aware that this would mean that although the Judge was a good Judge he was not such a good friend. However some of the other villagers had recently seen the two men sharing a meal together and thought that the
Judge would let his friend off without having to pay a penalty. In doing this they realised he would be a good friend but not such a good Judge. Yet when the case came to court, both groups found that they were wrong.
 
After hearing the case, the Judge stood up and fined his friend the maximum penalty for committing the crime. He then took off his robes, walked down to his friend and paid the fine saying, “You have done wrong and have admitted it. I know you cannot pay the fine, so I will pay for you.”
 
In the actions of the Judge we catch a glimpse of what Jesus Christ came to do. He stood in our place and paid for our wrong-doing so that we could forgiveness and life with our heavenly father.
 
In Jesus Christ we have a Saviour who shows us that God is both righteous and merciful (Heb 4:16), and that in him alone we find life (John 10:10) as it should be lived - in a relationship with our heavenly father.
 
All man-made religion fails the test of true religion, yet in the Bible God shows us how the Law of Love is fulfilled and in doing so gives us hope. Christians are those who have accepted the gift of life by asking Jesus into their hearts to forgive sin and be their Lord and Saviour. They are no better than anyone else and certainly cannot boast as if they have done something wonderful; they are accepted purely through the work of another: Jesus Christ. This is why Christians are told to go and love their neighbours and their enemies as well. Whilst our rebellious ways made us God’s enemies, he still chose to reveal His love to us, and we are to share this love with others as we live with Him.
 
True religion is about a relationship with the Eternal. This can only happen on God’s terms, and this offer of life is open to all who will humble themselves and meet God through Christ.
                                                           

God is Personal

The Law of Love speaks of what we cannot do, yet also points to what has been done for us by God. It does not offer a set of religious rules, or impossible burdens placed upon us by holier-than-thou leaders. Instead, it is the offer of friendship from God. No religion based on good works or self-effort can ever match this in any way, and all outside of Christ fail the test of true religion: God’s Law of Love.
 
In Jesus Christ we see a love that is divine and breaks all the boundaries. It is not controlled by the value of its object, and is determined only by its own intrinsic nature. God’s love is spontaneous and unmotivated whilst ours is flawed and motivated – seeking to gain something for its own benefit. God’s love is not this sort of love.
God does not need us, nor do we add to who He is in any way. His love is a love that seeks sinners, none of whom can lay any claim to His love through good works or self-righteousness. Nothing is acceptable outside of Christ’s saving work.
 
In light of this there is no room for elitism, or holier-than-thou attitudes. Christianity is the only religion that speaks of the One who fulfils God’s Law of Love and speaks of the Law-giver as the all-loving one who reaches out to us with no thought of reward or personal gain.
 

God reaches out

God is the initiator and restorer of the relationship between man and God through His Son Jesus Christ. In light of this we see how much our heavenly Father desires a personal relationship with us and the lengths he has gone to in order to help us. The relationship God offers is spiritual and dynamic – and is what life is meant to be about.  Since this life is a gift there is no place for lording it over others or looking down on anyone.
 
Through God’s love we are able to take the hand of fellowship offered to us, and in response to this love we are called to offer this friendship to others, without any thought of personal reward.
 
God loves you, and His offer of life is made to you personally through the work of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only one who has ever fulfilled the Law of Love, and so Christianity speaks of pointing to His all-sufficient work. It does not speak of man’s self-righteousness as being of any worth, or of good works achieving any merit, but of a loving God who, through Jesus, came and fulfilled His own law so that we could find forgiveness and life.  
 

“I think I understand something of human nature and I tell you all of these (heroes of antiquity) were men, and I am a man, but not one is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than man. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire of love, and to this very day millions would die for Him. Men wonder at the conquests of Alexander, but here is a conqueror who draws men to himself for their highest good; who unites to himself, incorporates into himself not a nation, but the whole human race.”                                                   

                                                                                                  Napoleon Bonaparte.
 

Submitting to God’s authority

No one likes the idea of submission because it can speak of submitting to those who imposed their will on us – like a bully or abusive husband or wife. This sort of submission often leaves people broken and crushed and is nothing like the submission that God speaks of.
 
Submitting to God is, in a very loose sense, a little like submitting to the dentist. In going to the dentist to deal with a toothache you are able to get back to being your normal happy self if you know what I mean. Submitting to a heavenly father is not about losing anything except the rubbish that should not have been there in the first place.  Now let’s turn to look at why some people do not like authority. We begin with a short story.
 
Once upon a time there was a young boy who was constantly bullied by his father. His father never took any interest in his son regarding him as an inconvenience more than anything else. Because of this the young boy struggled with feelings of inadequacy and failure and started to resent authority.
 
The boy grew up rebelling against the authority imposed on his young life by an uncaring father and eventually ended up on the wrong side of the law.  Over the following years he was in and out of prison and learnt to expect nothing from life and the so-called establishment, which so quickly labelled him a failure and an inconvenience to all.  All was not well, yet one day this angry young man heard something strange about the One who holds the highest authority in universe and who stands against all injustice.
 
The young man heard that this supreme authority would one day judge the actions of every man’s heart; yet there was more. He heard that this authority had drawn close to man, and instead of callously judging those around him had allowed fallen man to mock him, trample all over him and nail him to a cross. This was all the more amazing when he realised that this man, the Son of God, was the most powerful man who had ever walked these earthly realms whilst also being the most loving.
 
Our angry young man then heard that this man – a man of perfect power and authority - had willingly chosen to give his perfect life as payment for all he had ever done wrong and had then risen from the dead victorious so that he, the offender and peace-breaker, could come out from under condemnation and into the arms of a loving Father.
 
In all of this our angry young man found hope and something that strangely attracted Him. Here, right in from of him, was no distant judge who labelled his life with no thought as to who he really was. Here was the ultimate authority – all power and perfection – who challenged him in his sin, yet who had perfectly fulfilled His own law so that the angry young man could find forgiveness and reconciliation with his heavenly Father.
 
God will not overlook our sin, yet in Jesus, God stooped low and paid the price for our wrongdoing so that we could be reconciled to Him. This offer is open to all of us. This is what God’s Law of Love is all about; it’s about Jesus meeting all the requirements necessary for us find forgiveness and life.
 
Sometimes life can be really difficult and problems can arise that we never thought we would have to deal with. At times it can seem as if it is just too difficult to cope. Yet in accepting Jesus there is hope.
 
In accepting Jesus Christ there is a promise; a promise that those who come to Him in repentance and faith will find a great Shepherd who will walk with them and lead them out of their existence and into life with their heavenly father. This Saviour does not promise that life will always be easy, yet He promises that it will be life and not just existence because true life is all about a relationship with God. Jesus also reveals in the Bible that no matter the situations or circumstances we find ourselves in, we will be able to grow in His grace.
 
Jesus has come to bring us to our true home with God He did not come out of pity and certainly did not come because He felt sorry for us. He came so that we may have life and life to the full. He came because He loves us and seeks to bring us to our heavenly Father. The question is, have you met Him yet?  If you want to meet Him ask Jesus to forgive your wrong-doing and come into your life and help you to know your heavenly Father and the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
                                                                                               
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…”
John 11:25.
 
 

Jem Trehern, 28/04/2015