In the last post, we discuss how God’s mercy isn’t there just to let us do whatever we wanted. Christians and non-Christians alike often voice the idea that, “Well, God loves me, so He must want me to be happy. And what I’m doing makes me happy, so He’ll be fine with it.”
But what would we think of a doctor who wrote out a prescription but told his patient, “Do this if you feel like it” or “Take this pill as long as it makes you happy”? We’d say he was the most uncaring doctor in the world, for he had the power to fix the problem but he would rather see his patients happy than whole.
Of course, those who support this idea that “Love wants me happy” may think that their actions don’t matter that much, in certain area–that it is less like medicine and more like skipping a fruit or vegetable for a day. Sure, it might not be the best thing for you, but it can’t hurt…right?
But scripture disagrees. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast our demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.'”
In these verses, Jesus isn’t talking about people who stole or murdered or cheated on their spouses. He’s speaking to those who did good, in some form or fashion. People who tried to live a “Christian life,” doing things in His name, and He says to them, “You work iniquity.” I looked the term up in Greek, and it means “wickedness” or “lawlessness.” Even though they said, “Lord, Lord,” they did their own thing. They never let Him truly be in charge or direct their steps, and thus He says, “Your works weren’t good, but wicked and lawless.”
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if our actions sound good to ourselves and others or feel good. What matters is, did God direct us to do such a thing? Does it line up with His scripture and His Lordship of our lives?
Paul’s writings note the need to similarly guard his actions. First Corinthians 9:24-27 says, “Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. Every many who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore run like that, as not uncertainly. I fight like that, as not beating the air, but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.”
He had realized that, even though he’d done a great deal of good by preaching to others, it wouldn’t be enough if the rest of his life was out of control. Jesus’ lordship needed to be reflected, not just in his ministry, but in all his actions because God cared about all of what he did…not just the part titled “Paul’s Ministry Efforts.”
Thus, even though God is mercy, He isn’t the sort that doesn’t care what we do, because that sort of “mercy” wouldn’t be mercy at all. He is forgiving when we fail, but He expects us to get back up and keep working forwards, to keep fighting, and to keep running the race He has set before us, because that alone is the right path, no matter how attractive or interesting the other routes may be.
“There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous…It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.”
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, Chapter Three
Copyright 2017 Andrea Lundgren