Anne Lamott wrote that, The secret is that God loves us exactly the way we are … and that he loves us too much to let us stay like this.” Think of a father teaching a toddler to walk. She loves crawling and is content, but her dad keeps lifting her up and waving his hands forward. Over and over she falls and over and over he lifts her up. 

Somewhere inside her little mind, she begins to question—Why is he doing this? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t things go back to the way they were? Does my dad still love me? It won’t be until she takes her first step that she discovers the answer. 

Of course her dad loves her. In fact, it is precisely because of his love that he continues lifting her up, not despite it. It works the same way as we grow in Christlikeness. We don’t lose God’s love when we stumble or trip or stray from the path. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. But that doesn’t mean God’s love is a purely sentimental thing. There is tough-love too. This is one of the remarkable characteristics of God’s love, it sustains us while at the same time shoving us onward. Surely this is what the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote, FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES …”. God’s love woos and it weans, it draws and it drives, it pulls and it pushes. God wants more for us, but he won’t pour it on our heads or give it to us automatically. That would short-circuit the character forming process and more importantly, betray our humanity. 

The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good,” wrote C.S. Lewis, but that God will make us good because he loves us.” A long time ago in an edenic garden, God created and declared that human beings were good.’ He has not forgotten his word. His love will make us good. This is what redemption is all about. Our job is to surrender to love, to learn how to receive and cultivate that love, and in doing so, to become love. Simply put, to become like Christ.