We’re all a work in progress, wouldn’t you agree? My ambition is to be open-minded, but not simply open to others’ viewpoints but more importantly open for God himself to teach me. For God to change my mind, even. For God to point out things I hadn’t considered.
I’m a reader. I read books. I read blogs. I read opinions. I read opinions on opinions. And sometimes my head just spins. I see two opposing arguments on a given issue, both citing biblical references – in what appears to be in context – and I just want to throw my hands in the air. More than once I’ve found myself in this place in the last few months, and I find myself crying to God, “What is true? How do I process all this information? What am I to believe?”
Each time the Spirit gently responds, “Get in the Word.” I realized that as much of an avid reader as I am, it becomes even more imperative that if I’m going to be open-minded and allow opinions in – and I totally believe God wants that of me to a point, to keep myself from self-righteousness that can come from only allowing opinions like mine – I must aim to spend just as much time in the Word as I do reading what others have to say about the Word.
That’s my only lifeline in the torrential sea of opinions.
Yesterday, after posting about the father in the prodigal son, I found myself going back to that same parable. I felt passionate about what I wrote in that post. But something led me back to the passage. (If you haven’t read that post, it might be a good idea to do so to get the full context with what I’m about to share.)
I began to think about the son feeling the need to leave his father. I’m sure it wasn’t a whim. He didn’t wake up one day and decide to rebel. I’m thinking he had these desires and cravings that he couldn’t contain any longer. But, he knew that fulfilling these desires wouldn’t be allowed in his father’s house. Think about it. Why would he need to demand his inheritance and leave the only place he knew if he would be allowed to live a lifestyle of sin under his father’s roof? (I could go on a whole other tangent of what we ignore in the church today versus what we condemn in the public square, but I’ll save that for another blog post, when I’m feeling a little bolder. )
Within the character of the father was absolute, unconditional love, mercy, acceptance, and forgiveness. But also implied was the uncompromising nature of the father in regard to sin. He was the perfect image of equal grace and truth, a balance I don’t know that any one of us has figured out.
Here’s what I think. The father knew that if he allowed his son to chase sinful pursuits while under the shadow of his wings, the son would be blind to the full effects of the sin that leads to death. If the son hadn’t left, he wouldn’t have hit the rock bottom that ultimately brought him home.
We look at passages like the one in 1 Corinthians 5, where Paul tells the church to cast out the sexually immoral person from among them, and think it’s way too harsh. But look at what Paul says the reason is: “hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (v. 5).
The goal is restoration! Not punishment. The motive is love. Not self-righteousness.
What does this mean to me? I want to be a place to return to. I want to put the relationship above anything that even smells of condemnation or disapproval or legalism. But I also must never lose sight that condoning sin is never the path to life or restoration. Ultimately, I want to learn to love like the father did.
I don’t know what that looks like in every situation. But I do know that the place I’m going to find it is in the Word, by spending time with the one who is one hundred percent grace and one hundred percent truth. Perfect love is embodied in the perfect blend of both.
And so I continue seeking the Father.