THE LORD our GOD loves justice. He desires righteousness. And as his creation, we do too. We all want what is right. Nobody wants to be treated unfairly. Even the most wicked person doesn’t want to be hurt or shamed. So we do our best to do what’s right. We do our best to do good.
So many times though, we fall short. We can all be selfish, proud, cruel, or close-minded. We might even harm or exclude others in the name of righteousness. Among all things, Jesus condemned this kind of hypocrisy most severely. He knew that if we believe we have ‘right’ exclusively on our side, we are capable of any atrocity.
Does this mean that the Lord does not care about right and wrong? Of course he cares. Jesus explained things clearly. But telling us how to be good was only part of his message. Real life situations are complex. Right and wrong aren’t always so clear. And if we hurt others in the name of righteousness, what good have we done?
So what was the core of Jesus’ teaching if it wasn’t about right and wrong? It must be something much deeper, heavenly, and more human than a set of rules. What did Jesus come to tell us that was so important?
He came to tell us it’s all about relationships.
Our relationships with each other, with ourselves, and with God are more important than anything. If it was just about being good, then the Lord would not have broken bread with the sinners. He would have only pointed out their mistakes. He would have shunned them.
But that isn’t what Jesus is about at all. Instead, he wants to get as close as possible to the sinner — that is, to every human being that has been hurt by their failures. He wants us all to know his heart intimately.
God could have easily made us lifeless, robotic creatures. He could have withheld our ability to choose. He could have forced us to be good under threat of punishment. And while there are consequences to any action, he shows us how far he will go to win our hearts. Instead of force and control, he gives us freedom. He gives his life for us.
How far have we wandered from this message these days? Instead of the Lord’s way, we want to take matters into our own hands. Out of ego or fear we engage in cultural, political, and even military battles to demand good behavior. But you cannot legislate salvation. Laws do not inject grace into your life. You cannot bomb people into heaven.
The Lord our God is the sole owner of grace. He is the author of our faith. How easy it is to forget this and believe we have it all under our control.
So what does this mean then? Does it mean we shouldn’t care about rights and laws? Of course we should. But not at the expense of relationships, not at the expense of mercy. The way of the Lord is actually much more demanding — and much more impactful — than the wide road of power and control many travel upon today.
Take a long, hard look at your relationships with others, with yourself, and with God. There you will discover the most difficult challenges — and the potential for the greatest joy. There you find the deepest meaning that invites you to rest upon God’s grace.
This is the way of the cross on Calvary. It leads us to the kingdom of the empty tomb. We step into the realm of the Spirit, the Giver of Life. Here, human possibilities take on an entirely new dimension. It’s realizing your innermost desires as the human soul thrives on love. And then love is what you offer to others, even in the most difficult situations.
Now, we can easily ignore this. We can choose to do it all on our own. The enemy will tell you, don’t take a chance. Don’t risk trusting and feeling. You will only suffer. Don’t try loving and living authentically. It’s not worth it. Hide behind rigid doctrines and lifeless ideologies. Or coast along superficially without looking deeper. Above all, don’t listen to your heart. Seek deadness, isolation, and coldness instead.
And God will let you go as far from him and from others as you want. He will never hold you back. But when you are ready, when it is time, he will welcome you home.
He will show you his Son on the cross. He will invite you to consider the depths of his mercy. And he will tell you, do not be afraid to open your heart to the love of Christ. He can never hurt you. He will never betray you. He gives you life everlasting. He gives you a strong heart, unafraid to live and love.
And from there, yes, you can achieve deep, lasting goodness. You gain courage to move past your fears to make a difference. But it won’t be because you put people in their place. It won’t be because you know all the rules or have all the answers. Instead, your desire is to serve as the Lord serves, and love as the Lord loves.
Can anything be more full of goodness? Isn’t this what our families need so much today? Isn’t this what the world needs now more than ever?
This is not an easy way out, not by any means. Sacrifice and perseverance are required. Christ crucified is your guide. It cannot happen without a relationship with the Lord. And that relationship breathes life into all other relationships.
No one can do it on their own. We are way too limited. But his Spirit makes it happen. With him, all things are possible.
So get to know God intimately. Trust him. Believe. Give his true love a chance — and let your faith amaze you.
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And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”Matthew 22:37-40
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Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.James 4:8
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