Does God’s love pull you or push you?
God’s love for us is always overwhelming.
I find it mind boggling!! That He loves me how much? After everything I’ve done?
Maybe that’s why we sometimes prefer not to consider His love for us. It’s almost as if we prefer to stay away, so we don’t feel the fullness of His love for us; so we can’t feel bad about something we know, in our heart, simply is not God’s best plan for us. God loves us, in order that we can be closer to Him.
Conviction and Guilt are two words that are often used in pulpits, books, and Christian conversations. But, they really do matter when it comes to God’s love.
It’s easy to think of Jesus being the little meek and mild baby, although I’ve never yet met one of those types of babies! And I can guarantee that if Jesus was fully Man, then He knew how to cry and shout too!
It’s easy to think of Jesus healing the sick, caring for the vulnerable, or protecting the children from even His own disciples’ judgements at keeping them away – something the vast majority of churches still do incredibly frequently, and I say that as someone who has been a full-time children’s minister!
It’s also easy to think of Jesus being emotional, because He wept; He cried blood; He mourned over the death of a friend; He made the best quality wine for a party.
But it’s not so easy to think of Jesus turning over the tables in the temple. That doesn’t regularly, or comfortably, fit with how we’d like to portray Jesus as only being gentle and kind! Although, you could argue He was being precisely this in the temple on that fateful day!
And, yet, there is even more to that piece of scripture and Jesus’ act of love: it wasn’t random; it wasn’t something He just happened to do; He didn’t just turn up and lose the plot in some sort of uncontrolled rage.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2 v 13-17 (NLT)
In regards to conviction and guilt, it’s worth noting in this piece of scripture, from the book of John, that Jesus didn’t just rock up and lose the plot. He actually made a whip of cords.
Have you ever made a whip? I don’t mean to be fickle here, but putting this in a little bit of helpful context, He didn’t order Same Day Delivery from Amazon! He had to make that ‘whip of many cords’, and it wouldn’t have been the work of just 30 seconds.
I’ve worked with rope a little bit, and I can tell you it isn’t a rapid process, if you want it to actually function. And we’ve got to believe that Jesus, the Master Craftsman with all things wooden, didn’t do a shoddy job just to hurry up; Jesus was never in a rush. And this tells us that He acted in a very methodical, and planned out, way.
Even the scattering of the coins tells us something!
There were animals. Animals don’t use the toilet. So those coins, likely, wouldn’t have been simply on the floor to pick up! They’d have been partly embedded where you don’t want to put your hands!
Jesus acted righteously – He is God, so He can not sin!
He brought conviction to those who were using God’s house for evil. We often forget that they weren’t only selling animals – which needed to happen for sacrifices anyway. But, instead, they were using it as a means of profiteering from people. And that is my best understanding of why Jesus got so angry. Because He cared for people! And He cared for the Laws of God.
Jesus never made people feel guilty. Plenty, easily, did that to themselves. Jesus only ever convicted.
When I was at school, I never swore. I didn’t use bad language. One day, several years later, I was stood in church where I was shortly to lead the worship group at a Youth Event.
In walks a lad I hadn’t seen since we were at school together. His language was, well, at best, very ripe. As soon as he saw me, however, he immediately stopped the bad language, along with his blaspheming.
It wasn’t that I was some sort of spiritual giant, or important! We were the same age – our late teens. It’s simply that my witness at school, and my presence in church, convicted him and he ceased his swearing, and even apologised to me for doing so, inside the church building. I never said a word. In fact I just smiled when I saw him.
It’s worth noting that He arrived with many others of the Christian youth from our church, who were happy with his swearing – because they wanted to make him feel comfortable, I guess. But, enabling people to sin, or keep sinning, is simply not something we must ever contemplate as being somehow ok, or justified.
Jesus didn’t make those dealers in the temple feel guilty. They did that to themselves. No, Jesus convicted them for their actions.
You’ll notice the dealers aren’t referenced as putting up a fight, or coming back at Jesus somehow. That is conviction right there, plain and simple.
Because guilt leads us to doing more harm.
While conviction leads us towards Jesus; to our loving heavenly father.
Much like two magnets. If you push them together, but they’re the wrong way round, they are both repulsed by the other. But, get the polarities right, and they pull towards each other instead.
Which brings me back to my original question.
Does God’s love pull you or push you?
God loves us! That is more than apparent when He sent His Son to die on a cross and pay the price that none of us could have paid.
So, if you’re feeling guilty about something, the chances are you’ll try and pull away from God. We all do that! It’s even more obvious in children, who are much less able to lie as convincingly as us adults. Because, when they do something wrong, they tend to try and hide it – because they feel guilty, but don’t have the skills to hide it as well.
And we’ve seen this with our own children too! But, we’ve also seen them convicted by what we’ve said, and watched as they pull near to us, rather than feeling pushed away.
That’s the difference between guilt, and conviction.
One pulls us [to God] while the other pushes us [away].
God will never cause us to feel guilty, because we would simply be pushed away from the beauty and perfect nature of who He is.
God always desires us to grow closer to Him, and that means if we’re doing something that is not helping us to become more like Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit convicts us so that we can.
I think we could, in one sense, see the Holy Spirit as something of a spotter – checking to see the polarities are correct, so we’re drawn to God, and not pushed away.
There is an enemy of God and us, in the devil, who loves to try and put distance between us and God.
So, if you feel as though God is far away from you, or, specifically, as if you’re being pushed away from God, please know that this is simply not in His nature.
God loves you and me.
If you’re feeling pushed away from Him, then make you sure you get on your knees and say sorry to God, so you can feel that pull back to the Father, and His ever present love.
And if you’ve enjoyed this post, you might enjoy the post that inspired it, written by Mandy on her blog, Blue Collar Theologian. It’s a blog I can highly recommend, and is always has a treasure trove of encouragement!
Written by Andy B