Love can’t be forced. Obedience can be coerced, if necessary. Following a strict code of behavior can be gained by laying out the rational and positive reasons for adherence. A relationship can be engaged long-term through a series of intertwining commitments, peer pressure and cultural mores that promote the relationship.
Love? It can’t be forced. Love is best freely given and received.
God is love. God in love has revealed laws that point to goodness (don’t steal, be faithful to your spouse, respect those in charge) and humanity is better off when following God’s law. Positive moral codes of behavior similar to those in the Bible have been embraced by one degree or another in many cultures. It stands to reason if the universe was created by God that some semblance of a moral law would permeate hearts everywhere. And it stands to reason that something is not quite right with humanity insofar as no culture anywhere has people who always follow even what they believe to be right, whether it be out of fear of punishment (temporal or eternal) or in anticipation of reward (eternal or temporal).
But love, that is God’s aim. And love, not law or reason, holds the ultimate power to transform.
So, Christians believe, God radically changed the course of the cosmos by entrusting his very own son into the hands of a human family. To be born, raised by a mom and dad, experience the horrors of persecution and joys of family, the frustrations of trying to keep food on a table and sense of accomplishment achieved through hard work well done. To learn at his mother’s knee even as he teaches the religious leaders of his day. Perhaps, some would see him for who He is – truth, light, love embodied - and fall in love with him, too. And through this vulnerable exchange become himself a merciful high priest who understands the suffering and temptations of a sin-riddled, confused, hungry people made amazingly in the image of God. And God in Christ, with the full abandon that love alone can engender, gave himself as an atoning sacrifice for all the confused, heavy laden, angry, violent, selfish and arrogant people whom He better than anyone else could ever know were formed by the Lord to become a joyful, creative, aware, free, peaceful and truly wonderful humanity.
Let’s fall in love with Emmanuel – God with us – all over again. Receive His amazing, lovely forgiveness along with the promise of a life with Him that leads to our daily renewal and the promise of a heart full of love for God, others and ourselves.