James 2:8 says, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.”
With that in mind, let me tell you a story.
In 1993 a well-known theologian from Croatia named Miroslav Volf was doing a talk on loving your neighbour.
Afterward someone asked him, “But can you embrace a cetnik?” For clarity, cetniks were Serbian fighters who had ravished his homeland of Croatia, committing widespread violence and slaughter.
He replied with incredible honesty: “No, I cannot—but as a follower of Christ I should be able to.”
I really appreciate how straightforward and unpretentious Volf was able to be. And it teaches us something.
You are beloved in God’s eyes. He made you. You are his child. And your belovedness is not based on how good you are at being good. We have a high ethical standard to shoot for. But at the same time, his love for you is not based on how successful you are at being loving.
We sometimes miss the mark.
And then we beat ourselves up.
It happens to me too.
But our salvation is based not on how good we are, but on our faith in Christ. And our belovedness in God’s eyes rests simply in the fact that he made us and we are his children.
Loving others is a high ethical standard. We should continually strive toward it. But it’s counter-productive to continually beat ourselves up when we miss the mark.
Love boldly. But when you fail, remember that God’s bold love for you never does.
By Matthew Ruttan
–This coming Sunday my sermon is called “But deliver us from evil: Understanding the spirit-world battle you’re already in.” Click here for a short YouTube video where I explain what it’s about.
–“Up!” is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on May 14.
–Today’s story is told by Art Van Seters in ‘Preaching and Ethics.’
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.