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Waking Up to Judgment

Scripture repeatedly and emphatically commands us to live in love and to put love above and before all things.

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 5:2, ESV

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Colossians 3:14, ESV

It tells us that if we love, we will fulfill everything else the Lord requires of us, but if we don’t love, nothing else we do is of any value.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing.”

1 Corinthians. 13:1-3, ESV

God’s central goal of creation, and thus of the Christian life, is love for him and others. God’s goal is much more profound and much more beautiful than merely being good. It is to do the will of God by being loving, just as He is loving. Our God-like love is to be the distinguishing mark of the believer, the proof that God is real and that God is love.

Yet, if we are honest, we must confess that we rarely live like this. Why is this? What keeps us from living in the place described above? The main obstacle to this unconditional love is getting our lives from our knowledge of good and evil – from our judgment of God and others (Luke 18:9-14).

To some extent, we get our sense of worth from attaching worth to or detracting worth from others based on what we see. We position ourselves as judges of others rather than simply as lovers of others. Another way of saying this is that we fail to abide in love because we choose to live from our knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:3). Our fundamental sin is that we place ourselves in the position of God and divide the world between who we judge to be good and who we judge to be evil. This judgment is the primary thing that keeps us from doing the central thing God created us to do, namely, love like He loves.

It may be difficult to think of sin as getting life from our knowledge of good and evil. It is like becoming aware of the air that you have breathed all your life. It is much easier and initially more self-rewarding to view sin in terms of evil that is “out there” rather than “in here” (Matthew 7:1-5). This failure is what keeps us from experiencing the life of Christ fully and is largely responsible for our inability to bear the kind of loving witness to which God calls us.

What keeps a community of outrageous love moving toward Christlikeness rather than judgment? A community of outrageous love is centered on its confidence that the Holy Spirit is at all times and in all people at work to change us into the likeness of Christ. It is centered on the strong commitment of its leaders to teach the Word of God by word and by example (1 Tim. 4:1-2). It is woven together around this center by the intimate relationships its members have with one another in small-group fellowships. They are collectively embodying and revealing the reality of the triune God, for they are participating in the dance with the triune God.

Most of all, the people who form a community of outrageous love can only love outrageously when they are centered on Christ.

Boyd, Gregory A. Repenting of Religion – Turning from Judgment to the Love of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004. pp. 13-19.

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