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LIFE AS A MIDDLE MANN

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Bono's Top Ten

I've got little more to offer these days than links to those who have much...here is one such link.

Bono's take on the top ten things he hopes the next ten years bring from the New York Times.

TOP TEN

Back to grading and painting for me, more blogging later.

  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:22 PM |  

    hey Josh,

    I was just wondering if you have any scriptural evidence as to why we as humans, deserve God's love?

  2. Blogger Josh Mann | 7:41 PM |  

    Hey! you found me :)

    great question, to answer it I'll have to build a line of reasoning, stay with me.

    Deserve is at once a good word to describe love and humans and at the same time not a good word.

    It's a good word in the sense that it very explicitly links fundamental human value as determined by God and the only appropriate response to it. It's a bad word in the sense that it comes across as a selfish-sounding or human-exalting version of the gospel. I'm not sure why interpreting scripture in a way that places human as deserving of God's love makes everything about us it's just a more accurate, in my opinion, of what it means to be made in God's image.

    Here's my biblical support
    Gen 1:26--can we not all agree that humans hold a unique place in God's heart being the only creatures made in his image?

    1 John 4:7-12. The other reason I believe we are 'deserving' of God's love is because it's the only posture God is capable of...he has no choice as his character leaves him with no other option.

    So my short answer would be that, the reason why, because he made us that way, and that's his nature.

    Another way to look at the question is to look at it from the opposite angle. You can find hundreds of verses about God's love for people, all kinds of people, through all kinds of messed up, serious, sinful situations, right? Can you find one verse that suggests implicitly or explicitly that this love is 'undeserved?' I know there are verses written by people who are shocked regarding the degree to which God loves us, verses that recognize our small significance COMPARED to God's, but are there any verses that suggest we are undeserving of his love? So I could say, can you find scriptural evidence to suggest we're not deserving of his love? There are a few ways to look at it but I'm learning that the one that seems to align with scripture and reality is that to be human is to live in unavoidable, unconditional love from the Father, and his commands for us to love each other seem to suggest that that would be the right thing to do, the appropriate thing to do, the fair thing to do, as if each human is deserving of love, respect, etc...from others and even from him. Does it take any significance away from the amazing reality of God's love for us to say that we are 'deserving' of it? I'd say no. Should babies be cared for and loved by their parents? Would not loving them be wrong? Are they therefore, even in their messy, helpless, vulnerable, state, not deserving of love? Is God not our example of a perfect parent? Does the 12-year old who understands they ought to be loved and cared for still not express gratitude for the ways and degree to which they are loved and cared for? As any who have been on the earth long enough would know that to be deserving of love does not mean one will receive love. Therefore, it makes us grateful when someone treats us God has declared we ought to be treated.

    Okay that's enough...care to reply? Disagree? You wouldn't be alone. May I also suggest "The LIfe of the Beloved" by Henri Nouwen as a starting point?

  3. Anonymous Peter | 10:33 PM |  

    Thanks for your response. First of all, I don’t mean this to turn into some sort of hostile argument. I pray and hope that you would consider what I have to say, and also pray on it yourself. I’m not exactly “up the butt” about every single doctrine of the Bible, but there are certain ones that I find that the Bible teaches that are essential. The doctrine of justification is one of them and I want you to carefully consider what I have to say. I don’t want to say things like “maybe God is speaking to you through me” because that would just sound really holy and self-righteous and I know that I must remain teachable, too. There’s a chance that there is just a degree of miscommunication.

    Yes, we do hold a unique place in God’s heart. He made mankind for the sole purpose of glorifying himself. He has a special interest in us because we have a special purpose. He’s redeeming a humanity as a bride for his son. I don’t think that necessarily means we’re deserving of love. What is really points to is how much God loves his son, and by grace that love spills out onto us.

    Yes, God is love. But I don’t think that means God’s only option is to love. The Bible makes it very clear he hates sin. A few verses even state that he hates those who do it (we won’t get into that one…). Remember that while he loved Jacob, he hated Esau.

    I can find you no verse that explicitly says that sinners deserve God’s love, but I do know that grace is receiving something we don’t deserve. Grace is the core of the gospel. Adam & Eve fell, we’re in the curse of sin, and thus, our evil hearts stamp us a one-way ticket to hell. But because of Christ, and his righteousness, we’re receiving the gift of knowing God and eternal life. Because of Christ’s righteousness. Our righteousness, or should I say “dirty rags” makes us deserving of hell. If I worked five hours, I deserve five hours of pay. That’s my wage. If I worked one hour and yet was paid for five, I think it’s safe to say those extra four hours were undeserved. In our story, I sinned, and the wages of sin is death. Yet Christ is the one paying those wages. Unless it was Jesus that deserved death, he took the death that I deserved. And God didn’t send Christ because we deserved Christ. Otherwise that would nullify the message of the gospel. In Isaiah 48:9 & 11 and Ezekiel 36:22-23, 32, we learn that God is promising salvation for his own name sake. One of the verses literally says “It is not for your sake I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel”. God loves his glory, and we should always go out of our way to present the gospel that clearly is God-exalting rather than human-exalting. He tells us to be ashamed. That’s a little harsh of him, but so true and necessary to hear.

  4. Anonymous Peter | 10:34 PM |  

    (Sorry, long post! and blogger only allowed 4k characters)

    We love our enemies because we want them to see the love of Christ in order that they too might be saved. This is the same love that God loved us with. When we were enemies with God, he still showed us his loved and called us to be his. We are commanded to do this to imitate his love. Not because they deserve the love. If my family was slaughtered by a thief in the night, I can honestly say he would not deserve any love from me. He would not deserve patience, or kindness. I would not even want to hear his explanation. I would hate that man and my wrath would be out against him. However, because of God's commandments, if I truly loved that enemy of mine and wanted to see him saved, I would pray for his heart to be convicted of sin. Asking me to make him some cookies might be a bit much though...

    You must remember that while God is ultimately the master of all, he is not the father of all. After the curse of sin, the father of an un-regenerate soul is Satan. God’s children are only those who have been adopted by him through salvation. God has no obligation to any of them, and can slay them at will if he so chooses and it would be a just act. Unconditional, everlasting, redeeming love is reserved for his elect. The thing is, we don’t know who the elect are, so we are commanded to love all as if they were elect, to bring as many as we can to Christ.

    My biggest concern is this…Only when people realize they are undeserving of the love, mercy, and grace of God is when it leads them to brokenness about the sin that Christ had to die for. That brokenness leads to salvation. I would not be in awe if my manager paid me the wages I worked for. I would be in awe if he gave me wages that he worked for. That he had to give his own son for and do all the work for me. Earlier you said that “deserve” can be a good or bad word to use. If there’s so much room for misinterpretation, I feel that kind of message should be avoided altogether. I mean, honestly, I think there are a lot of people that could hear a thing like that and get the wrong idea. It’s a damnable misconception. By telling sinners that they deserve God’s love, it takes away the necessity of justification, because there is nothing that needs to be justified. And while that may not be your intentions, it's a possible outcome.

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