What's Love Got to do with it?

What if we've missed the point? What if Love Wins is enough? And why Rob Bell may just be right.

Right On our doorstep

Think that slavery is a thing of the past? Think that the UK is too civilised to be part of trafficking? Think again

5 reasons why being married to Brit is great (or 5 reasons to marry an American)

5 things you will never know until you marry an American

Masturbation Month

Giving up masturbation for a month. Why we need to save the kittens.

XXXchurch! Whaaa?

Why I love porn (ministries).

19 Jun 2012

How good is God?

Sunday was Father's Day. The day when we gave thanks for our fathers. The men who bring us up and show us what's what, how to shave and how to look after money. All important things, but crucially not everything. Father's do other things. They let us know they love us. They make us feel safe. They take time to listen to us when we have a problem. They let us be free to mess up and still be there when we return knowing what we did. They try to stop us messing up and are still there when we return knowing what we did. They know what we need even when we don’t.

They are there.

Unfortunately though for many of us they aren’t. Perhaps they have left your family, maybe they have died, maybe they just don’t care.

If you are in this situation it may be pretty easy to understand why so many people find it difficult to relate to God as Father.

And when we find it difficult to relate to God as Father we then view God as being a distant parent.
A parent who doesn’t care, who is angry with us, who is unapproachable, who’s easily annoyed, who is happy with us only when we do well. Or at least don’t mess up.

That’s the kind of God many of us can relate to. Because that’s the view of God we have grown up with. The reasons for this are many. But the reality is when we view God like that we aren’t experiencing the God that the Bible tells us about. Part of the problem is that we don’t always associate Jesus with God. God is the elderly, slightly grumpy uncle where as Jesus is slightly hippy and loves everyone. So ultimately we have to do decide.

Is God good or not?

Is He all loving or does He lose his patience with us?

Is He forgiving or is He constantly judging us?

Because how we answer those questions will determine how we live. Are we hiding because we think God is out to catch us? Are we afraid because we think God has a list which he is checking twice, like some sort of cosmic Santa?

Or do we live in freedom and in complete love with God because we know that nothing can separate us from Him?

Are you able to approach Him because you know that He yearns for you constantly, every moment of every day. Awake and asleep.

The cynical amongst us reply ‘that’s great but if we live like that we’ll go crazy and do whatever we feel like doing’

The hopeful reply ‘then you don’t understand how much God loves you, you don’t see how far He is willing
to go for you and you don’t understand love’.

The irony is that real change arises out of knowing there is nothing you can do to be loved. Not out of fear or trepidation. It’s a gift that never runs out. It’s a gift that was given by God for us to enjoy not to use as a tool in theological debates or as a way of proving that we are right, but to be free to love one another.

So maybe we can solve the dilemma of whether we see God as a good father when we view the love He showed us while we were still sinners. Jesus spent so much time being with people, showing them how to care for each other, showing them that they were important to Him and caring about their lives, especially when they had made a mess up of them. The people that Jesus loved being with the most were the screw ups. The Zacchaeus's, the  prostitutes, the liars, the sick, the stuck up and the weak.

The us.

The love Jesus had, came from His father. The father that He felt he could approach even when He was dying on a cross. The love we often associate with Jesus and sometimes disavow from God is the same.
If we have been brought up in a family or environment where a father is absent we often blame ourselves. We don’t always know it but we do. And when we blame ourselves we feel shame and hide from our fathers. Only we don’t have one so we do the next best thing and hide from God.

But God doesn’t work like that. He doesn’t blame us and He doesn’t want us to hide. So perhaps our hiding from God is less to do with Him and more how we view Him.

Which is why we need to view Him like he really is.


There is no good cop, bad cop. There is only good cop, good cop.

Ultimately God is either good or He isn’t.

Ultimately He is foreign to us or He is close to us.

Ultimately He loves us unconditionally or He doesn’t.

And when we realize that He does, that’s not just the greatest Father’s Day gift.

It’s the greatest gift ever.

1 Jun 2012

Love is...not comparing yourself

Most of us might not like to admit it but we are constantly comparing ourselves to each other. We might not like to admit it because ultimately when we do compare ourselves we’re effectively revealing that we don’t like who we are.

If everyone does it then we’re all just wasting time trying to be each other and eventually none of us will be anyone. And that’s just stupid.

Why do we do it then? Why then in a culture like ours (and I’m specifically speaking of a Northern Irish Church culture) where we are told often enough that we are sinners and need saved, do we not embrace our faults? Our weaknesses. Our insecurities. Isn’t that what we are told Jesus came to save us from? Our weaknesses are a good thing then. Right?

Well if you are anything like me then you know that it’s not that simple. You can submerge yourself in a Christian culture still only deeply rooted in the idea we need saved and still have doubts about who you are, why you’re not as funny as her, why you don’t play as well as him, dress well enough, organize things as well. 

Pick whatever it is you enjoy doing, feel good about yourself because of or are inspired to live your life for and there will always be someone out there better or more talented. 
But if Jesus already sorted our sin and our faults, why do we still put so much effort into comparing ourselves?

Is it that we don’t really understand what Jesus did for us? Is it because we are simply human or is it because we are jerks?

Or all three?

The prevalent teaching of most Churches is that Jesus died for us because we are screw ups and that if you want to go to Heaven you need to be saved or else you will be going to Hell.

Our mission is biased towards this so we focus on winning souls. Our relationships are based on this so we spend most of our time with other Christians. Our teachings are focused on how we live well so we don’t backslide.

But what if we have skewed it a little?

What if we have narrowed the Gospel to simply about a one off event? 

To simply about our final destiny.

What happens in-between?

And how does it affect how we think about ourselves?

Is it possible that Jesus died for us not only because He wants us to feel His love forever but He wants us to experience it now?

Is it possible that Jesus has a plan that consists of more than sitting around, waiting for Him to come back and not screw up in the meantime?

When we look at the Gospel in this alternative way I think it allows us to take hold of our faults and say, even with these Jesus still loved me enough to free me. So even if with your porn addiction or your gossip compulsion or your fear of not being in control, Jesus still went ahead.

Those weren’t enough to put Him off.

But apparently for us they are.

In John 8 the Pharisees bring a woman to Jesus who has committed adultery. In fact she was right bang in the middle of it (Interesting also that the man is nowhere to be seen). They bring her to Jesus for Him to condemn her. It’s a set up. Hundreds of people are surrounding you yelling angrily, hatefully. Jesus has to join them right? But instead he writes words on the ground in the dirt. Nobody knows for certain what, but slowly the crowd peels away. The people have no answer. Soon it’s just the woman and Jesus. Jesus asks her who condemns her. Everyone is gone. Nobody condemns her. And then Jesus utters the words that change her world.

“Neither do I”.

Before that He invited those who had never messed up in their life to throw the first rock at the woman. Of course no one could accept that invite. And yet we feel the sharpness of rocks thrown at us all the time. It just so happens the one throwing the stones is ourselves.

Jesus’ focus is not on what she has to do for Him to love her. It’s not even a factor. His focus is not about her eternal destination. It’s not even mentioned. It’s about here and now.

To embrace His love simply because He is love.

That is his focus.

And it should be ours too.

But so often we forget we are loved, we panic and then look at others to see how we can improve.

Forgetting that because of Jesus, there is nothing to improve on.

Forgetting it’s a waste of time and effort.

And it won’t get us anywhere.

Even Heaven.


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More