I wonder if God would look at us today and say, Woe to you who are at ease in the church! I hate, I despise your church services. I take no delight in hearing your sermons. Though you offer me a moving experience of worship music, I won’t accept it. If we’re busier playing church than we are getting our hands dirty for the poor, that verdict is entirely possible.
Divorce is not usually the problem. It’s the fruit of the problem; the root is a life that is self-centered. The problem is that people go into marriage looking for someone to complete them or make them happy, and when their spouse quits doing that or gets difficult to live with or they meet someone they think might do it better for them, they get divorced.
Imagine that you’d been blind your whole life, and suddenly, through some medical miracle, you regained your sight. How would you prove to someone that you are now in the light? It’s not that you can logically prove the existence of light. It’s not that you can explain how the medicine worked. It’s simply because you can now see everything else because of that light.
When confronted with others’ sin, we’re likely to say, “Hey, if you go and sin no more, we won’t condemn you.” Clean up your life a little bit, fix your sinful habits—and then get back to us. But Jesus puts acceptance before change. He knows we’ll never have the power to change until we feel the warmth of acceptance. God’s acceptance, you see, is the power that liberates us from sin, not the reward for having liberated ourselves.
What could be more obvious than the desire to make things right? And yet, as much as we yearn for the world to embrace right-ness (which is all righteousness means), our own words and actions constantly betray God’s picture of rightness. We want God to deliver the world from evil, but we also see that evil in our own hearts. We want the world to be good, but we know ourselves to be rather bad.
A theologically-minded guy recently visited our church and didn’t like the phrase we sing, “You didn’t want heaven without us,” in the song “What a Beautiful Name It Is.” He said it diminishes God’s glory by making him sound deficient. His concern is understandable. But when I look at the story of Hosea and God’s response to the rebellious nation of Israel, I’m reminded how scandalous God’s love is.