Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
I just heard a preacher say that if you cannot receive the love of God you cannot receive His blessings.
(It reminded me of the religion of my youth: do this to get that.)
I stopped listening.
For the truth is, most of us, coming from what we may in our backgrounds, the good, the beautiful, the bad, the ugly, and/or the abusive…understand love from the visible flesh-and-blood we live and work with on a daily basis, and it’s the flesh-and-blood interactions with our parents and families by which, as tender little ones, we cobble together our concept of love mentally, emotionally, and in the hidden places where fresh wounds and old scars erode trust and corrode hope.
So, realistically, here is what many people learn about love: it is quite satisfying and feels good sometimes (emotionally and physically) but it also disappoints, betrays, hurts, confuses, enrages, or leaves us spent (mentally and psychologically).
Once in a while, one hears about or observes what looks to be a solid, loving relationship, but still, as they say, what goes on behind closed doors may reveal as much struggle and pain as any other relationship.
So, I would respectfully ask the preacher, if visible flesh-and-blood “love” is so hard to comprehend and starts out with circumstances over which we have no control, how then can we possibly comprehend the love of God…in order to “get His blessings”?
Or perhaps the good preacher meant “will not” receive God’s love?
For that is what I believe is the truth.
“Cannot” implies “no ability to”.
“Will not” implies a choice.
For, if you think about it, God woes us, first, despite our “goods, bads, and uglies,” indeed, He “chose us before the foundation of the world (!),” i.e., He chose all back then who choose Him, now.
Loooooooooooong before the world, the flesh, and the Devil, if you will, blinded, confused, tormented and/or obfuscated the message.
Testimony after testimony reveals this.
When they believe it is “their time” to choose God, people describe it as akin to an awakening from some real or existential stupor with a sense that it’s show time, spiritually. Time to accept God’s patient invitation for them to repent and turn from that which harms them (sin), receive God’s love, His sacrifice for their sins, Jesus, and His eternal salvation.
Not that, fresh from the spiritual womb, so to speak, the individuals would have any concept of all the above.
They just “know in their knower,” as one person put it, that the time is now—and for all eternity.
(Perhaps, even, like someone just now reading this.)
Back in my “day,” that’s how I put it, too.
It is the “spiritual rebirth,” akin to physical birth, where at first, though we may be “new creatures in Christ Jesus,” we know little to nothing about He Who has given us this gift.
We have yet to learn about His full nature (and full love) while we first learn to toddle, then walk, then run, then race to the finish, an analogy St. Paul used.
And it may take years for us to even get close to fully comprehending how to “receive God’s love,” about which we know so little, particularly if our concept has been tinged with evil of any kind in an evil world.
I would also say that, given the anti-Christ/God/Bible spirit gaining popularity in the world today, many of us choose God in spite of not only wrong thinking about the nature of His love, but wrong thinking about a lot of spiritual realities.
And yet, He woos us.
And yet, He waits for us…
… to make the choice for Him so that He can then show us what we have “received” from Him as we, line upon line, verse upon verse, get to know Him and His love more and more every day.
And there’s this: “We see through a glass darkly,” thus, we have a limited view of Him anyway, here on this darkling plain…yet, He still loves us—and blesses us.
Stay close to Him, my friends–and preacher.
I will, too.
And be careful about what you hear.
(I’m getting a little better at that day by day, too.)