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TITLE: Radical love?
By Karin Beery
06/30/08
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This is a response to a writing prompt. I'd like to work it into something suitable for submission as a devotional.
In high school I had a science teacher who constantly encouraged students to KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. I daily apply that approach to my walk with God. Instead of over-complicating His word and its meaning, I try focus on its simplicity. Love is the most basic, the most fundamental element of Christianity. When I think about radical love I turn to the most amazing reality of that love for us: Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love for us in this way: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)
It's hard to understand how much sin offends God. When we “stretch the truth” about how much money we make, is that bad? Maybe not to us, but to a perfect God, it is. It can be hard to understand how a relatively good person, one who doesn't steal or hurt people, could so offend and hurt God. Too often we think if our family and friends love us, if we do good things, then it shouldn't be unusual for God to love us. While that may be true, we need to remember that it isn't just the “good” people that Christ died to save.
Imagine this: your tree-loving daughter spends her days giving people the truth about the dangers and destruction of their life-style choices. She gives them all of the bad news first, telling them about the horrors of life without wilderness, but she also gives them an alternative. She gives them options, explaining that they can choose to have a better life, if they will just be more disciplined. Many people listen. Many don't care. Many are outraged. In fact, those outraged people harass and bother your daughter, making her life difficult. She presses on. Eventually a radical loses control and your daughter is killed. The murderer is arrested and sentenced to death.
But now imagine this: you go to court and please the case of the murderer. You admit his wrong and the need for justice, but you ask for his release and offer your son to take his place instead. The judge agrees. Your son is taken to prison and eventually executed. You take the radical home. There, you give him your son's room, his belongings. You clothe, feed and care for him. You offer him your fortune and a place in your family. The murderer, however, doesn't accept. He leaves your home, roams free and continues to contest and murder those whom he opposes. You realize that your son has died to give this man another chance, but he refused it. What would you do?
I know what God does: He keeps His heart and His home open, ready to receive us when we are ready to come home. He gave His son Jesus to die to save the lives of not only the “good” people, but to save the lives of the very people who crucified Him. And He did all of this knowing that some people would just walk away, never accepting His gift of salvation.
Radical love. It's easy to love your daughter, but to love her murderer? It's easy to love your son, but to let him die in place of those who've wronged you? Could you offer your home, your status, your love, to an unrepentant serial criminal, just to make sure he has the opportunity to accept it? God does...radically.
That's the love that sets Christianity apart. That's the love God has for us, whether or not we choose to receive it. That's His radical love.
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