Love is already

th-7“God loves you, just as you are, not as you should be,” was a favorite saying of the late Brennan Manning. He concluded almost every talk with it. “I will not should on myself today,” is another.

“Should” need not be anywhere in the vocabulary of a follower of Christ.

“Should” sets me up for failure every time. It tells me there is something I need to be doing, but I am not doing it, and chances are I will not, as long as it’s a “should.” Turn it into a “want to” or “can’t wait to” and you might have something, but “should” is steeped in legalistic tradition and a law that is impossible to follow.

“Should” is all about the law and living up to expectations, and they are almost always expectations I am unable to do in my own strength. God set it up that way. He made the law impossible to fulfill so we would break it, and eventually come to Christ. The problem with “should” is that it assumes we can fulfill the law. It appeals to that part of us that wants to prove something — to earn our salvation and feel good about ourselves based on what we have gained, and how we line up compared to others who haven’t accomplished what we have. (This works best if you don’t tell everyone else what the rules are so you can beat them without them knowing there is even a contest.) “Should” is a Pharisee’s favorite word. Everyone “should” do such-and-such, but not everyone will, so if I do it, I will be better than everyone else. Prime Pharisee strategy.

If God, or anyone else, for that matter, loves us for what we should be, we will never know love. We will constantly be falling short — constantly reaching for that love we can never attain. But if we are loved for who we are (just as I am), love is already. It is a foregone conclusion. It is love possessed, not earned. It is a love none of us are capable of, and none of us can earn.

We speak with Chandler almost every day and our love is the one thing of which we can be certain. We love him, and always will love him, regardless, because he is our son. It is love already. God’s love is the same, only greater. It is love already. God loves us just as we are, not as we should be.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

When it comes to God, we start with love, and work out from there.

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3 Responses to Love is already

  1. Andrew P. says:

    Matt. 6:9 – “This, then, is how you should pray: …”
    Matt. 23:23 – “You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
    Mark 6:12 – “They went out and preached that people should repent.”
    Luke 12:5 – “But I will show you whom you should fear: …”
    Luke 12:12 – “…the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
    Luke 17:10 – “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say,…”
    Luke 18:1 – “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”
    Luke 22:26 – “Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”
    John 13:14 – “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”
    John 13:15 – “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

    Most of the above are quotations of Jesus, himself. And I don’t think he was a Pharisee. Maybe it’s a bit more complex than “don’t should on anyone.” Just sayin’.

    • Lisa in Sunland says:

      But it seems to me that when mere humans use “should,” it is, most frequently, in a judgmental way reminiscent of the Pharisees. Jesus, as the very embodiment of Love, may use whatever words He wants with me. And I agree with you it is more complex than that (and I bet John does too), but he is pointing out a good concept, which results in a good idea to check ourselves before should-ing on anyone (or ourselves). Blessings on ya!

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    Just wanted to add an Amen & Praise God to today’s good Catch. 🙂

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