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More Law Than Love?

Awhile ago, a friend of mine, Jeff Fields, posted the comments below to his Facebook page.  I have thought about his words often since and am sharing them here with his permission:

As long as I can remember, I have agreed that God is love. In reality, though, I think I have seen God more as law, than love. I have largely viewed God as the great legalist whose #1 concern was that His laws be kept. Yeah, God is love, but boy, He sure is a stickler for law, too. I believed that God accepted me because Jesus kept the law for me.   It was as if God could not tolerate being around someone until His law was kept. Of course, Jesus was nothing like that. The only ones that He did not get along with were those who were all focused on trying to keep the law.  

Then one day I saw that a right relationship with God has nothing to do with me being morally guilty or innocent. Righteousness is “apart from law” (Rom. 3:21). Those three words jumped out at me: Apart. From. Law. A right relationship with God has nothing to do with either me or Jesus keeping laws.  More and more, I’m seeing that sin was not a legal problem that God had to punish for His own sake. Instead it was a relational problem that God wanted to remove for our sake.  Sin, at its core, is not breaking a rule. Sin, at its core, is the unbelief that blinds us and keeps us from trusting the Father who loves us more than we know.  

Humanity was in darkness and saw God as angry and legalistic. Jesus came inside of our darkness as the Light of the World in order to open our eyes to see the love of our Father. He has sent His love into our hearts by the Spirit to turn the lights on from inside (Rom. 5:5).  For many of us, the light dawns over time. I’m finally starting to see that sin didn’t need to be punished so that God would accept us. Sin needed to be removed so that we could see and accept God.

In my last post I discussed the fear of being misunderstood.  I admire Jeff because he has shared questions and thoughts about his walk with Christ that certainly could be (and I suspect have been) misunderstood, yet he has been compelled to share them anyway.  

Like Jeff, I, too, have been working through the implications of God being love.  I, too, have realized that I tend to think of God as “more law than love.”  On occasion I have even caught myself being concerned that I could be presenting Jesus as more loving than he actually is (is that even possible?).  Curiously, I have noticed that when I read the Bible and Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees I never consider the possibility that I am the Pharisee in the story.  I my mind, it is always “those people.” 

Of course love is complicated and how we define love will largely predict our emotional reaction to some of these questions.  To be sure, love demanded the turning over of tables, repentance, and produced fiery words of warning to those whom the Beloved loved.  But Jeff’s post did leave me wondering… Is it possible that the Good News I so desire for the world around me to experience is actually even better news than I thought?  Is it possible that I could be unintentionally presenting God more as law than love, and if so, could I be a stumbling block to to others hearing and receiving the Good News?


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1 thought on “More Law Than Love?”

  1. My heart jumped for joy as I read through this post. I believe and agree wholeheartedly with this view of the Gospel. Thank you for being brave. This causes much opposition within the Christian culture… Fear is the motivational factor in the majority of believers. Fear of God ( the wrong kind) fear of hell, fear of punishment , of falling short.
    So for good measure we tell new converts to come as they are and that forgiveness of sins is by grace and not works and then we “disciple” them with behavior modification doctrines and set them up for failure…
    Love, on the other hand, is transformative. As we enter into a relationship with Christ, his love transforms us more and more into his image. The notion that too much love and not enough law can cause us to sin is really saying: Christ’ sacrifice wasn’t enough to completely redeem and restore us, we still need the law. “ O foolish Galatians!”
    Thank you 🙏🏻

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