This is a great photo mostly because it’s the type of thing that lends itself to all kinds of captions. “Whoa, that’s a long way down!” Or “whoops!” Maybe even, “how’d you get down there?” I know one thing for sure with my impaired sense of balance leaning over like that would mean but one thing for me – a quick trip to the bottom!
But that’s kind of how we are. Leaning over the cliff’s edge. So mesmerized by what we see below that we lose all sense of perception – completely unaware or unwilling to recognize the danger that we ourselves are in.
In the last few years the world has become an increasingly dangerous place in which to live. It’s not something we like to think about but its true. We hope against hope that as long as we stay perched above it all (like the fella on the cliff) we will somehow escape it. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Right now the nation (and the world) is in turmoil. The conservatives blame the liberals and the liberals blame the conservatives. Everyone points to the other while no one points at themselves. And the truly frightening thing is that we are ready to go to blows to make our point.
“You’ve offended me by what you did!” “Well, you’ve offended me by what you said!” And on and on we go …. while no one considers that we’ve all offended the one who matters most – and that is God. In the depravity of our minds, we think that we can make up our own rules; call our own shots. No matter how contradictory they are. We deplore “bullying” while we applaud a world who attempts to impose their will on another nation (Israel) and we call “haters” anyone who disagrees with us so much so that we hate them and want their voices silenced.
We throw the blanket of love around yet accuse anyone who disagrees with us as being unloving. Try holding fast to any moral standard particularly a Biblical one and see how fast you are labeled unloving. And as great as love is …. there is something greater. And this is where without a doubt, we hold the higher ground.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” Psalm 19:7
Let me give you an example. We know from the Bible that God is love. In fact, he loved us so much he sent his son – as Christians, we all agree on that. But ask yourself this question – which is greater law/justice or love?
My daughter (the one I often refer to as Seven Stars) and I were discussing this the other day. When she pointed out to me what I believe to be the perfect example to that question.
Say a sheriff in a town has a son who commits a heinous crime. The sheriff is grieved because he loves his son but he has been a long time servant of the people and has on oath sworn to up hold the law. What does he do?
He turns his son in.
Why? Because of the nature of his character.
For as much as he loves his son he knows that justice takes precedence over love — which is why lady justice is often depicted as blindfolded.
Now this is important because we cannot fully understand God (nor his love) without first understanding his justice. In fact, it is precisely because of his justice that he is able to express his love towards us.
For the love of God flows forth from the justice of his nature.
Another way of saying that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
God is grieved by our sin. The justice of his nature demands a penalty (which he cannot dismiss) but because of love, great love beyond our imagining, he took the penalty upon himself.
The world rejects God because they don’t like his law, his standard of justice. So much so that they accuse him (by virtue of those who seek to uphold his law i.e. marriage, sanctity of life and so forth) as being unloving. To accuse us is to accuse him. Can you imagine! The one who meted out justice upon himself in order that we might receive the full expression of his love – accused of being unloving. What hutzpah! And what a very dangerous cliff on which to stand.
Friends, its like this. Our sin has offended the justice of God. But because he loves us it’s as if the Sheriff in our little story had said – “take me in my sons place”. God offers that to all of us. He took the penalty of sin on himself and offers it as a free gift to all who will receive – an offer that is available to each of us as long as we have breath. Sadly, if we do not take advantage of his gracious offer before our life ends the penalty for the offense of sin remains on us. Justice will stand.
For justice takes precedence over love – but, it is also what gives love its greatest expression.
*A big thank you to my daughter whose thoughts were the inspiration for this post and to both my daughters for their love of Jesus and who (like Aaron and Hur when they held up the arms of Moses) held up my arms for so many years, when I could not hold them up for myself.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem they shall prosper who love thee” Psalm 122:6
Watching and waiting with YOU for the soon return of Jesus! Cindy