10 For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being. Job 12:10 (NLT2)
First, God loves everything. Second, everything loves God. The second is as true as the first. Acorns grow into oak trees because they are in love with God. That is, they seek (unconsciously) their own perfection, which is a participation in some of God’s perfection. An oak tree is more perfect, more Godlike, than an acorn. An acorn is not satisfied to be an acorn, because it wants (unconsciously, of course) to be more like God. God is the magnet that draws all the iron filings that are creatures closer to Himself. That is why everything moves. It is seeking its own perfection, which is a reflection of God’s perfection. Everything moves out of love of God.
There are people who will not acknowledge God, yet they are drawn to Him. The aspire to be like Him, much as young children might want to be like their parents. There is a part of us that longs to excel, to be good at something, anything. To be the best, to be the expert, to know more, do more, be responsible for more.
It is actually a drive to be like God. To be perfect. Using the old Army slogan, to “be all that you can be.”
Kreeft indicates that this is actually a love of God. It may be a little warped, it may lead us into sin as it did Adam and Eve. It may surface as false pride and even self-idolatry. Often it reveals itself as a desire to supplant God, even as a young man may try to be the alpha dog in his family.
Sin often masquerades as light, which means it must have a kernel of truth in it. We want to be like God, whether we acknowledge His existence or not, because we are made in His image. And that drive, corrupted by sin, leads us to rebel against what He has planned for us.
The drive is not sinful, the pursuit of perfection is not wrong. It just needs calibration, and focus as we imitate Christ, even as Paul and the apostles were transformed into doing.
Redeemed, reconciled, adopted, revived and renewed, that drive is to see God at work within us, leaving Him in control, leaving His wisdom as our guide, and our norm. This is how we are to live , in Him, perfected.
In communion with Him, this hunt for perfection leads us to fall to our knees, to allow Him to remove our imperfections, to cover our failures, to even erase our sins.
This is revival, when our desire for perfection finds its fulfillment in a relationship with the Lord who created us, and in the death and resurrection of Jesus, recreates and perfects us.
Come Holy Spirit, make Your presence known as You fill our hearts, renewing our lives. AMEN!
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 102–103.
His Love Made Perfect….in US?
1 John 4:7-16
As we look into the manger – may we realize this perfect example of God’s love is here…to show us the mercy that will cause us His love to be made perfect in us.
The Shepherd’s View….
Of all the characters that gather around the Christ child, for some reason I feel the strongest connection to the shepherds, the ones who come in from the fields. I imagine myself there, looking down into the manger in amazement, looking down on a little baby. I think about trying to process what we had seen out in the field, the amazing words we had heard.
Can you imagine – these the least of those, the one’s whose “job” didn’t let them go home at night – if they even had a home, they were the ones who were brought to be the first witnesses of the birth of the Messiah.
Yet, looking down at the Baby… I can imagine their hearts pounding, the sacredness of the harsh manger overwhelming… and a question raising up inside…
Why me… why did God choose me to bear witness to this – and indeed I will – but why me?
Who us? Love made perfect in us
As I read the passage we heard a few moments ago from 1 John, the same question arises…especially as I hear these words in my mind,
God lives in union with us, and his love is made perfect in us. 1 John 4:12 (TEV)
Me? Really? If there is a reason left in my mind as to God’s wisdom, it in choosing me. And I suspect, I am not the only one who is challenged in that way. Sunday, as Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s house, the same kind of response – why are you here, the mother of my Lord – to visit me? That attitude runs through scripture – Moses, Gideon, King David, so many others…
God you are going to make your love perfect… in me?
I so want to add on the word, “Really.” Do you know how broken, challenged, imperfect and sinful I am? And you are going to perfect you love… in me?
What do we think is love?
It is God sending Christ for us.
Knowing this – causes us to love each other
It doesn’t start with us – but with him
I think the answer comes to the “why me”, “really, me” questions, when we begin to hear what love really is. When we really understand why we toss a little manger and put a doll in it, to remember Christmas. Again – listen to St john’s epistle…
9 And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. 10 This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.1 John 4:9-10 (TEV)
Love is more than just a simple emotion – it is adoration and devotion in action. Not just thoughts – but that which compels us, that which drives us to act in the best interest of the one whom we love.
And it isn’t that we have loved God… it is that He loved us, proving it here.. (point to the manger) and here (Point to cross), enveloping us in His love as He baptized us into Christ, cleansing us from sin, as we feed on His Body and blood at the altar, as we are comforted by His presence, abiding in us – making us into the image of His son..
It is abiding in this love, living in it, reveling in it – letting it transform us, that brings us to the point where we can love Him – and even as that love resounds from us to Him, it envelopes those around us.
I used to think it a challenge to love those around us – something we have to exert all our energy, strain to do – that it was a challenge to love people who wronged me, or irritated me, or those wouldn’t forgive me for irritating them….
John is crying out to us, it isn’t about our straining to exert the effort to love. That kind of love comes – as we spend time in God’s presence, living and resting in His love, in realizing and meditating on and reveling in the love that He showed us; as His Son was born and died, and ascended… and the Spirit gathers us, and grants us faith and repentance.
That kind of love doesn’t have to be forced out – it grows and we find ourselves unable to keep it in.
Assured – and so we declare this to others….because we trust in the love God has for us!
That is the love that occurs because God came into the world – and cleanses us from sin. It is life changing, but such a challenge because we struggle to believe it, it is a challenge to know it is ours…
Here of it some more,
13 We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and tell others that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If we declare that Jesus is the Son of God, we live in union with God and God lives in union with us. 16 And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. 1 John 4:13-16 (TEV)
My friends, this is the love that saves the world, this is the love that takes this messed up, upside down, good is evil and bad is good and changes it, transforms it, makes it a place of peace.
This love is God’s love for you, it is the love He desires you to find life and rest in, it is the love that changes everything….
It is the love, that if we are honest, we are uncomfortable with, For we struggle to see ourselves there, and yet – that is the very… attitude that leads to worship – for God sees us and knows us and chooses to pour out that love on us..
So my friends – welcome God’s work in your life, welcome His love, and know, that yet – you really….