“Daddy! If we be good* will you bring us something home?” These were the words shouted at me across the lawn as I was getting ready to head off for work. Of course, being the gracious father that I am, I responded, “No way!” Don’t get me wrong. I love giving my boys treats and surprises, but to give them something for being good, for something that is expected of them…well that’s just not good parenting. Uh oh. I am in trouble now.
We often refer to God as our heavenly father. And rightfully so as that is part revelation of the Triune God. This imagery often even helps us in understanding a bit of who God is (this is not always the case for those who have never had a positive experience with an earthly father). And so it kind of led me to thinking about understanding God and our moral behavior here on earth. I think a lot of times that our earthly checklist of right and wrong becomes a ledger that we believe will eventually be fulfilled in heaven. But is it really a scorecard? Does God really want to reward us for being good…doing what is expected?
Kids have a fun way of seeing life. Essentially I think they see it as getting stuff. I get good stuff if I am good and bad stuff if I am bad. Come to think of it, I am not sure that we really grow out of this. Heaven and salvation become the good things we get when we are good and hell and damnation become the bad things if we are bad. But is that really why Jesus came? In John 10:9-10 we find these words, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Life in full…life to the fullest (I like the old school translation here)? If Jesus comes to give us life to the fullest doesn’t that imply a “now” kind of thing?
I look at it like this way. I love to do nice things for my wife. Not because she will in turn do nice things back, but because I love her (love being defined as a daily choice to put the other ahead of the “me”). If God is love and he has come to give us life to the fullest then wouldn’t that be the way we receive that life to the fullest. In other words, it is time to throw out the ledger sheet; for God, for others and even for ourselves. Being good becomes an outflow of the grace shown us. Not because of what we will receive, but because of who God is…love. May you learn to love today out of response and not out of expectation!
* There is still some grammatical education to be achieved.