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.

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