I was raised in a religion of fear. I pray that our preachers never again brandish threats of hell fire is they did in my youth. I’m not afraid of God any longer. What I learned is that following God in fear and trembling became a burden too great. So I left, as so many of my generation did. It’s not my fault – our fault – we were told so many wrong things; things that dismayed and disheartened us.
We were constantly told it was wrong to do this or that because it was a sin and punishment was the result. They perverted the Lord's message. To speak of nothing but the ills and never of the healing was simply wrong.
I learned the truth after the great Church council of my youth. Like so many councils before it, it corrected errant teaching. I learned that Jesus, came to tell us – and prove to us – that God’s love is infinite and free. Rather than the rule dominated faith of childhood, I learned to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ’s loving sacrifice for my life. I know now he came in love to save me, and I try to respond to that love with love.
You came to love us Lord … you came to forgive us Lord …
you came to save us Lord … I know that now.
How can one believe that heaven is earned? As if love can be earned, as if love were for sale. Jesus taught us the opposite, he taught us love is freely given!
Our call as Christians is to receive God's love … and then give it away.
The church of my childhood was a place where a decent life consisted of the regular practice of religion; we thought that keeping the rules was all that was required. But that wasn't true … it wasn't enough … and deep in our hearts we knew it. I now know that our call is to a loving relationship with the Lord, which then begets loving relationships with our neighbor.
Jesus came to reveal that God is LOVE … and only love. He even told us to call God Abba - our dear Father. Jesus came to tell us we were God's well-loved children. He came to tell us there is only one commandment – to love like God.
Despite Peter’s sin - his denials of Jesus - Jesus only asked him one question –
“Do you love me, Peter?” He asks us the exact same question today.
Substitute your name for Peter and hear Jesus' voice asking you -
"Do you love me, _________?"
My only fear now Lord is the fear of
failing to love enough – to love like you – unconditionally.