If God loves everyone just the way they are, ___________________.
Have you ever tried to fill in that blank? The common statement goes, “God loves everyone just the way they are.” And it sounds really nice. Comforting, even. After all, no matter who we are or what we do, God love us, right? Of course. Even in our sin, He loves us. Romans 5:8 bears witness to that fact: “God demonstrated His own love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” But try to fill in the blank, and the hidden misconception becomes obvious. Let me help:
“If God loves everyone just the way they are, Christ would not have had to die.”
Where’s the lie? Do you see it?
God loves us where we are. He loves us despite our sin. But He does not love us just the way we are. If He was okay with us just the way we are, Christ would not have had to die for our sins. “Just the way we are” is this: we are sinners. The Father desires much more for us than that. He calls us up to a higher standard. A standard of purity. God told the Israelites in Leviticus 19:2, “Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” And contrary to popular opinion, Jesus’ death did not nullify this command. 2 Timothy 1:9 says, “He saved us and called us to a holy life.” After sending Christ to be our redemption, and the path to forgiveness and righteousness, He still desires and calls us to that standard of holiness. So the grace card isn’t a free ride, as many think. It’s a precious gift that guarantees our forgiveness should we slip into sin. But to continue sinning after salvation, on purpose (abusing grace) is a dangerous thing. Hebrew 6:4-6 says, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” That’s scary, isn’t it?
This is where fear and trembling comes in. Philippians 2:12 tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Not that the Lord wants us to live in constant fear, but I believe He desires us to examine ourselves and to cast aside those things in us that do not produce fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven. He wants us to always come up higher, to a new level of glory in Him. We cannot stay the same old man and receive the abundant blessings of the Lord. The old man cannot care for the things of God. He must change us so that we can be nearer and nearer Him. We must submit to His light shining in us and exposing our darkness. We must work with the Holy Spirit to eradicate the sin in our lives so that we can become the new creature Jesus died for us to be. God does not love us “just the way we are.” If He did, Christ’s death on the cross was just a very dramatic attempt to turn our eyes to Him. In the long run, Christ death would have meant nothing. But the truth is, it means everything. God demonstrated His love in this. His love desires more for us than that we live to fulfill our own fleshly desires. He wants us to experience the fullness of life in this present age, which has nothing to do with fulfilling ourselves.