“…God demonstrates his own love for us…”
When we approach a major decision in our lives like buying a car, we usually take one of three approaches: ‘The Consumer Review’, ‘The Test Drive’ and ‘The Test Pilot’.
The first approach is the consumer review approach…we look at what our family did (we are a Ford Family), we ask our friends and we look for expert opinions on the value, quality and expected cost.
The second approach is the test drive approach. We take the car out on controlled conditions in the city, see how it feels, imagine how we look in it and decide how comfortable we are with the car.
The third approach is the test pilot approach where we test the limits and the capabilities. We have a specific list of handling characteristics and teach each of these areas, taking it all the way to the edge of the envelope, sometimes even taking it beyond. At the end, the test pilot understands intimately how something will handle different situations; it understands what will and will not work.
We approach the Gospel the same way that we buy a car. We do a consumer review, asking friends, families and experts (ministers). We do a test drive trying out a church, asking ourselves how it feels, how do we look and are we comfortable there. The final way is to look and try to “test out” the Gospel to see if it has “The Right Stuff”
In Romans 5:8, we read “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the very core of the Gospel. The word demonstrate is συνίστημι (synistēmi) and its most literal meaning is to introduce or prove worthy. This is the word used to describe when a diplomat would present their credentials to a king. God makes a very bold claim here…That his credential in the Gospel is love. If God’s credential is love, we should be able to be “test pilots that test” the love of the Gospel by using the “handling characteristics” of love found in 1 Corinthians 13…does the Gospel live up to each of the attributes that 1 Corinthians 13 states that love is? This is the question that I have been asking myself, as well as have I handled the Gospel in the same way? There are 16 “test pilot” questions that I think each of us need to ask and answer:
1. Is the Gospel patient?
2. Is the Gospel kind?
3. Does the Gospel envy?
4. Does the Gospel boast?
5. Is the Gospel proud?
6. Does the Gospel dishonor others?
7. Is the Gospel self-seeking?
8. Is the Gospel easily angered?
9. Does the Gospel keep a record of wrongs?
10. Does the Gospel delight in evil?
11. Does the Gospel always rejoice in the truth?
12. Does the Gospel protect?
13. Does the Gospel trust?
14. Does the Gospel hope?
15. Does the Gospel persevere?
16. Does the Gospel fail?
My conclusion is that the very foundation of the Gospel is love…God demonstrates his own love. Yet too often how I live out the Gospel is an exact contradiction; my own actions may be getting in the way of the Gospel.
So my question for today, is do I see the Gospel as the right stuff of Love? Or is it based on fear of my actions…My first step in developing a Doctrine of Love.