My mom is one of those off-the-grid, homesteading types. She has a garden, a root cellar, and even a composting toilet that utilizes sawdust, which actually isn’t as weird as you’d think. Unless, of course, you get sawdust in your underwear. Then it’s definitely weird.
When my siblings and I were kids, my mom taught us how to make candles as part of our homeschooling curriculum. She’d buy blocks of wax, heat them up in a pot on the stove, and give us long wicks to dip into the wax. After we let the wick sit in the wax for a second or two, we’d take it out, pull it straight, let it dry for a few seconds, and then repeat the process until layer upon layer of wax built up and a long candlestick was formed.
Jesus said that the people who follow Him would be like lights in this world. I used to think that the process of becoming a light for Jesus was very linear: you move from point A to point B. Paul says in Romans 2 that it’s God’s goodness that leads us to repentance. So, after we initially accept the gospel, we should move on to something else, right? God’s goodness led you to repentance? Congratulations. The law will take you forward from here.
I’d already heard the love portions of the message. I needed “the truth…”
I felt guilty if I read a lot about God’s love during my devotional time. Whenever I did something wrong, I felt like I needed to pull myself together. I’d already heard the love portions of the message. I needed “the truth,” as some might say. Believing the gospel of God’s love was a been-there-done-that kind of deal.
Over the years though, I’ve found that this kind of thinking doesn’t work. Grace is not something that we can simply dip our toes into and call it good. Following Jesus is less like going from point A to point B and more like making a candle. I need to be dipped in His love over and over again.
At least, that’s what I gleaned from Paul’s declaration, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” and Peter’s instruction to “above all, love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8). The biblical writers didn’t see God’s love as something you could move on from but as something you return to repeatedly. They were continually baptizing themselves in God’s love so they could serve as lights in the world. This tells me that my starting point in the journey of faith should also be my destination if I want to grow as they did.
We must embrace the continual process of leaning into grace to become more like Jesus.
Focusing on God’s love doesn’t mean that you don’t value His law. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Focusing on God’s love means that you know that the law is so high and holy and sin runs so deep within us that there is no way you could ever pull yourself up by your bootstraps. We must embrace the continual process of leaning into grace to become more like Jesus. Every step of our journey must always be centered in what He has done for us. Therefore, we don’t study God’s love too much. We don’t study it enough.
You might be worried that you’ll become “unbalanced” or start thinking it’s okay to rob a bank if you think about God’s love too much. But I wouldn’t worry about that. The Bible never actually tells us to aim for “balance.” Instead, it tells us: “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him” and “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Colossians 2:6, Philippians 1:6, NIV).
Allie is a 2012 ARISE graduate and on-staff writer and communications assistant for Light Bearers. She is fascinated by the intersection of faith and the creative process and enjoys poetry. When she’s not watching a good movie with her friends, she enjoys narrating life with mediocre accents.