“…be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us… once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of the light… and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord…”
Ephesians 5:1-2,8,10 (RSV)
It’s all about love, God’s amazing love for us in Christ Jesus: His passionate desire to enfold us in the eternal love of the Trinity; His relentless search and rescue operation, securing the possibility that we might live together with him forever in joy and fulfillment.
Even more amazing and generous, we have been given a great gift – the gift of His very Life, taking up residence within us so as to enable us to actually live – with His own life – a life that is pleasing to Him! St.Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
Jesus came, not just to save us from the results of our sin and disobedience, but to liberate us from the enslavement to sin and give us the ability to choose not to sin in the first place; to choose love, trust and obedience instead of our own will and way.
We may sense in our lives a call to a deeper wholeness, a desire for that more abundant life that was promised us. Yet we find ourselves measuring our response to our Heavenly Lover out of fear and lack of trust. We are aware that we have not given all of ourselves. We may even feel unable to give more. Yet God desires far more than we do for us to be able to trust Him, to have the courage to trust Him.
Love changes us. We let in a bit and find ourselves changed. That is both thrilling and unsettling, as growth and change always are.
If we choose – little by little – to turn toward God and outward toward other people instead of curling back in on ourselves in selfishness and self protection, we find that God takes care of us. Things that we thought were disasters turn out to be gifts and causes for greater freedom. And that gives us even more courage to trust Him more deeply.
Then we can use our liberation from the enslavement to our selves to do good, to bless others and reap the joy of our salvation. We can open our hands, let go of the things we’ve been clinging to (which can never give us what we really want) and see what surprising things God will do.
What, actually, do we have to lose?