If God Is Love… Part 2

This is a continuation of my look back on my blog RedLetterLiving blog before I activate it again. This is part two of a series I wrote in June 2011 about the book “If God Is Love” by Philip Gulley.

That book changed my mind about so many things. It kept me on the path to Jesus when so many others are destroying that legacy. If I could only get you to read one book about Jesus it would be this one.

Posts 3: July 3, 2011:

Dualistic theologies reduce the questions of life to one: Are you saved? Nothing else matters. The purpose of life it to answer that single question. Of course, simply saying “yes” is not enough. You confirm your salvation by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, getting baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit. Until you have done these things, your life has no meaning.

When salvation is defined so narrowly, it too easily becomes a status rather than a process. It becomes a contractual agreement between an individual and God….  Too often, God’s desire to transform us into mature, responsible, and gracious people was obscured. When religion factored in the fragility of life and the threat of eternal damnation, the product (a spot in heaven) rather than the process (becoming an authentic person) became the priority.

Growing up, I was asked repeatedly, “If you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?” I was never asked, “If you live tomorrow, what kind of life will it be?”

If God Is Love – Philip Gulley

Some call this supposed contract between you and God fire insurance. We sign the papers and then put it on the shelf until it is needed. That is NOT what being a follower of Jesus Christ means to me nor should it to anyone else. Yes it is important that I know where I will be spending eternity but equally important, if not more so,  is how I will live my life tomorrow and all the tomorrows I have left.

Posts 4: July 15, 2011

This wrestling with our theology, though absolutely necessary to spiritual growth, often puts our lives out of joint. On several occasions, I thought, “Remind me again why I wanted to question and challenge the beliefs I was taught.” The answer, as with all change, is because what had once satisfied no longer filled me with joy and peace. This spiritual dissatisfaction is a divine gift. God loves us too much to let us remain less than what we can be. Life is designed to challenge our inadequate beliefs and behaviors. Fortunately, God also guides and directs us in new ways. I discovered different answers to questions I’d thought forever settled.

If God Is Love – Philip Gulley

These words have had a profound effect on me the last few years. I was, in so many words, asked to leave my church of eight years because I had grown spiritually enough to know that some of the things they were teaching were simply not what Jesus intended. That discovery, and the sharing of it with some others did put my life out of joint. But as mentioned above this spiritual dissatisfaction was really a divine gift. I no longer found it necessary to believe that Jesus expected nothing from me while I am on this earth. I can now take his constant mantra about being my brother’s keeper more literally than before.  God just loves us too much to let us remain less than what we can be.

God gives us challenges throughout our lives. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, we simply ignore them and go on as we had before. But when we accept the challenge we grow in ways we never expected. Painful as it was at the time, throwing away the “poor worthless sinner” excuse for doing nothing in the life  has made it much more rewarding than remaining in that dulled state of existence I was in while a member of that congregation.

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