What Gospel Is Your Life Proclaiming
For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
In this passage Paul is not advocating the keeping of the law, let's make that clear from the beginning. Paul is taking a preemptive strike against a familiar foe that has been plaguing the still infantile movement up to this point. He is combating the idea that Christians, gentiles in particular, are to keep the mosaic covenant. Paul is essentially saying, "Look if you want to keep the law just love people! After all, the sum of the commands of Moses can be expressed in love."
Love is the defining mark of one who has encountered the grace and love of Christ. Love comes with a whole slew of out flowing expressions, such as acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, kindness, and understanding. Love is not some burdensome command we frantically shuffle about attempting to fulfill, it is the natural and organic response of the heart of the one who has experienced God.
Our God is indeed akin to a raging fire, and one cannot leap into the inferno without coming out on the other side transformed. As flame transforms wood into a new state of material existence, so the inferno of God's love moves us from one state to another.
The problem as I see it, as I have engaged with many believers and have seen far too often a common and saddening theme, is that most of us have not truly experienced this love of His. We stand shivering crowded around the fire, too afraid of leaping into its flames. Further, the fear that keeps our feet planted has been nursed into its current and prevailing strength by a teaching that twists the faith we have all come to believe into a set of rules, regulations, and commands. God our Father is now our dictator, our fearless and ruthless leader of the heavenly kingdom, and we all inhabit this kingdom as His passive and terrified little servants.
The God you perceive in your heart is the God that you present to the world. If God is a dictator, ruthless, unflinching, and unpredictable, then this is the God you will present to the world. This is the lens with which you will see others and the basis on which you will choose to receive them. If God is cold, distant, demanding, and so on, then how will you ever truly love your neighbor? The love may spring forth from fear, but only a fool would call this true love.
The New Testament is primarily describing how we respond to God in light of the finished work of Christ and the experience of His love. It is not, hear me clearly, it is not a set of commands, rules, or regulations. The majority of the New Testament passages such as this one from Romans, are descriptive and not prescriptive. They describe who you are, how you naturally want to respond, and act as a means of affirming and exhorting us to follow in that direction.
My friend, what gospel is the world receiving form your life? What God are you presenting to your neighbors? Are you truly accepting others as Christ has accepted you? Are you truly compassionate towards those outside your sphere of friends and family? If not, why not? What is keeping you on the edge of His raging love? What is stopping you from diving in? My prayer is that today you will choose to leap. My prayer is that you will invite Him to shatter your current paradigm and wreck you forever with the truth of His love and care!