Do you love God?

Do you love God?

That is the first great commandment, yes?

Love God.

Do you love God?

Please note, this question is not “Do you think highly of God?” or “Do you admire God?” or “Do you like it when God does good stuff for you?” or even “Do you sing a good praise song and lift your hands in worship?”

Do you love God?

Of course, if you do not know God, the answer must be “no.” We cannot love the idea of God or the rumor of God. We must know God to love him.

Too many Christians spend their spiritual might trying love a God they neither know nor experience. They try. They say all the right words. They do all the right things. But they, as John Wesley put it once, have no more love of God than a stone.

And as a stone our hearts will remain until our eyes of faith are opened to the great truth that we tell during Holy Week. Jesus Christ loved you, loved me, so much that he died to free us from sin and death. He knelt in the garden that night — when he could have run — because he loved us. He bore the lash because he loves us. He took the nails because he loves us. He died humiliated, tortured, and mocked because he loves us.

Do you know how much God loves you?

Do you know?

Do you know?

Doing what God wills

Here is a question: If you could know for certain the will of God, would you do it?

There is a famous scenario sketched by Anselm of Canterbury. He asks the reader to imagine standing in the presence of God. Someone tells you to look at something off to your left or right. God tells you in that moment not to look. Would you obey God, even if obedience meant the death of someone you loved? (Anselm ups the stakes to the destruction of all creation.)

This seems to me to be a fundamental question. If we knew what God’s will was, if we had certainty about it, would we obey it?

Traditional Protestant theology says we would not, at least not until we have had a new birth. It says our will is corrupted and incapable of obeying God. A sign of that corruption is that we do not even desire to obey God.

It seems to me at times as if contemporary theology takes as a given that we should not obey God if God does not meet our standards of righteousness and love and justice.

Of course, this whole conversation is skewed by the fact that we have revelation, but not often consistent interpretation of that revelation. So, we live in a situation in which knowing for certain that we understand God’s will is rare. Or, at least, it is rare not to encounter plausible or at least rational alternative interpretations.

But the practical difficulties do not eliminate the question. Indeed, they may make it more urgent, since only a sincere desire to know and do the will of God properly motivates our encounter with revelation.

If we knew the will of God, would we do it? No matter the cost?

A word from John Wesley

“Some of the Mystic writers do not choose to speak plainly; some of them know not how. But, blessed be God, we do; and we know, there is nothing deeper, there is nothing better, in heaven or earth, than love! There cannot be, unless there were something higher than the God of love! So that we see distinctly what we have to aim at. We see the prize, and the way to it! Here is the height, here is the depth, of Christian experience! ‘God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.’”

–From a letter to Betsy Ritchie, 1775

What people with Down syndrome are worth

It appears women will soon have a better test to determine if their unborn babies have Down syndrome.

This story about the new test speaks of the $6 billion market that the test will create as women who can “afford to be choosy” pay for the testing.

The story does not mention the likely outcome of those tests.

Jean Vanier, Stanley Hauerwas, and Amos Yong have taught me to see such stories in a different light than I might have at one time in my life. The popularity of such tests reveal to us that we live in a society that declares people with Down syndrome of no worth. We would, if we could, prevent them from being born.

How does the church witness to God’s love for all his creations in the face of a secular discourse that decrees it is more merciful to eliminate people rather than care for them?