The following article was submitted by guest author Dave Hernandez.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
This passage defines the parameters for “knowing” God quite clearly!
It seems that this reference of Scripture, along with many other encouragements to ‘love one-another’ throughout the Holy Bible, have not been the strength of the churchgoers I’ve associated myself with over the years, including myself.
It’s not that we’ve not known how to do ‘good works’ and show kindness to the poor and outcasts of society – because we did well on that front. It’s just that our ability to really love those we disagree with morally, theologically or even in terms of religious expression remained somewhat limited.
In my opinion, it’s because our eyes are still blind to the Trinity as our source of Love, Truth and Honor. Without these we die. Without God we die. Adam introduced us to death.
Perhaps we don’t know God as much as we’d care to admit. Let’s not be too harsh on ourselves: we carry lies, shame and fear from generations past since Adam’s disobedience. That’s how Adam and Eve’s disobedience hurt us so much. We are blind. And because of our blindness, New Testament truths have been hijacked and turned into a religious system that has kept us enslaved to more lies, fear and shame.
Or is it that we don’t know ourselves because we’ve remained focused on sin as behavior and moral short-comings, instead of understanding that we all live disabled by a broken soul needing unconditional love, uncontaminated truth and a sense of dignity and honor to survive?
Perhaps looking at our common brokenness with an open heart of humility will help us understand how blind we are and why? Self-awareness has never hurt anybody. And, maybe that self-awareness will open our eyes to the struggles of every other person we encounter in life?
New Birth gives us new vision. That’s what Jesus says to Nicodemus in John 3: Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). I have no doubt of our salvation, but I must admit, to my regret, that I have just recently come to a place of awareness that allows me to declare, “I am beginning to see clearly.” It’s not that I wasn’t born… I was simply in the infancy of New Birth that dragged on for over 25 years. Now, however, I feel that I am fully aware of my New Birth, and I am beginning to get a grasp of The Kingdom presented to us from the Cross and our Resurrection. Further on Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
I am undergoing metanoia, a change of mindset. It’s forcing me to face the incredible foolishness of my past mindset. And I am very sorry. I sincerely apologize to the many people I have shunned, ignored and rejected all in the name of Holiness and Truth. I am profoundly sorry, but I didn’t actually know God back then. That may not be a good excuse, but it’s true. I was blind. I had doctrine but not God. However, He knew me and was patient with me. He graciously took me through a process of unlearning everything. It was painful but well worth it. I was a preacher but I didn’t know God as Love. At least, I didn’t know Him in the way John describes in his Epistle: the way Jesus reveals The Father and His Kingdom at and from the Cross. I knew the Cross as a means to satisfy the wrath of an angry God. I knew the cross as a means to make me acceptable before a Holy God. But Love? One that embraces all Humanity? That can’t be true? There’re too many people I find difficult to love out there, in that evil world, and I can justify not loving them because, well, they just don’t have Truth and Holiness like me.
That mindset has changed. It must change for all of us. That’s true repentance. If I am to reflect that I know God, then I must let Love flow from my inner most being like a river of sweetness. That is what Jesus is referring to in John 7:37-38:
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”
James, in his Epistle, asks us a question: “Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” (James 4:12.)
I recognized that my soul, my innermost being, was flowing with bitter water and needed healing. Yes, despite being a “Christian” all my life, and a minister as well, the waters were poisoned by anger, jealousies, criticism and various manifestations of fear. Further on John continues to write, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,…” (1 John 4:18)
You see, my waters were embittered by fear because I didn’t know God…not really! I was still blind living my christianity with fear, lies and shame being my primary motivators.
I knew of God. I knew about Him. I loved the Bible. And I sought after Him. I was religious although I believed I wasn’t. My soul was filled with lies, fear and shame. To be honest, I was like everybody else on this planet living life according to the old Adamic reference of death. The atheist, the Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Evangelical and me! All as one Body living in our fears, lies and shame, seeking something. All on a quest. Some know of God, some not. Some are showing love but not knowing its source. Some are religiously devout but showing anger. All of us, as one body of people needing a transforming encounter into Love, Truth and Honor.
The Cross reveals and recovers for us everything we’ve lost. God is Love. The Cross shows us the extent of Love. Jesus came full of Grace and Truth. He restores us to Truth at the cross. “For this cause I have come”, Jesus admits to Pilate, “to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). And, in our forgiveness, revealed to us at the Cross, we are restored to a place of dignity and honor as Sons and Daughters.
The outcome of that restoration will be evident to all: everyone who loves is born of God and knows God!
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