In the wake of a difficult week, I am reflecting on the essentials of faith– the foundations I am aiming to instill in our family, and it’s in such a timely manner that I have re-stumbled upon this gem of wisdom in the book of first John:
"There is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us."
One of the foundational truths that I hold to in parenting is that one day when you are old enough to choose Jesus, I pray that you will choose him out of being compelled by His love– demonstrated toward you by me, daddy, and the whole rest of the church. I do not wish for you to enter grace as one “merely escaping the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:15), fearful of eternal damnation or punishment from a vengeful and wrathful God.
Because even though these things are in fact realities, the scriptures teach us that there is a better way to come to own our calling as sons and daughters of light. Instead of focusing on being “good enough” to escape his wrath, constantly comparing our “goodness” to others in a desperate attempt to ensure that we measure up, Jesus calls us to rest in the perfect love of the Father.
Western Christianity has swung the pendulum a few times– from stifling legalism that fails to acknowledge the grace of God, to “faith-alone” doctrines that dwindle faith to a mere head-level acknowledgement rather than full-bodied trust and obedience to God’s story.
I pray that as you grow, I am able to pull away from these extremes, which have a form of godliness, but deny His power.
I pray that as you grow, you become so rooted and established in love that a life lived in the Lord is an unquestionable drive filling and overflowing the proverbial cup that moves you forward.
What that looks like...
It is not always easy to love “because he first loved us.” The love with which Christ loved us is paradoxical at best, and downright unfathomable in the most difficult moments.
To love as Christ loved requires that our eyesight be appropriately focused on the goodness of our Father, and the permeable nature of our kingdom-calling. We must be aware of feelings that tempt us toward self-interest, and be skilled in the dance of enacting self-governance and Holy-Spirit power to deny those self-preservationist drives.
And still, I find that life is truly life when my heart is angled here.
Life is not found in an abundance of awareness of my shortcomings. Life is not found in stifling guilt about who I am or what I’ve done wrong.
Life is found when I live loved– when I allow the love of Christ to compel me forward into the kingdom-work of loving others well…
When your future children bring you to your knees with disobedience or strong wills (believe me, you are a strong-willed woman in a long line of strong-willed women… you can’t escape it), I pray that you will tap into the well of love with which we have aimed to fill up in you, the same well of love that is filled to overflowing by our Creator God, and you will be inspired to fill that well up in your children, husband, and community.
I pray you will love, because He first loved us, and so we loved you.
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