We believe the world revolves around us. We believe it follows our own timing. We set the standards and qualifications. Things need to be done the way we require them to be. We treat God this way. We will follow God as long as He plays by our rules. We will follow God as long as He does the work. We will follow Him, but we will not surrender all that we are.
God does not work on our terms. He does not follow our timetable. He does not cater to our every need. We forget this because we focus on God as love, but we distort what love is to begin with. Love is deeper and richer than we can imagine. You could spend your whole life studying the intricacies and contradictions that are found in love and you still would not even come close to understanding it. There is a crucial aspect to God’s love that we forget. God’s love demands something of us.
Am I allowed to say that? God’s love demands something of us. Isn’t that contradictory? Isn’t love unselfish? Love is not supposed to insist on its own way. Perhaps a better word to understand this concept would be “compel”. God’s love compels us. It compels us to action. You see God does not love us based off of our action. However, if we grasp this love then we will be compelled to carry out action.
What does God’s love demand from us? What does it compel us to do? We are called to surrender. Not just some specific area in our life, but to surrender everything that we are. Jesus died on a cross, but now it is sending out a call to anyone who will hear. Jesus is not going to drag you off to the cross. You need to go to the cross and surrender everything you have.
That is why the cross is a stumbling block to some. It is a symbol of great love, but it is of a love that requires something of us in order to accept it. We need to die to ourselves. We need to die to sin. We can no longer say that we are with Christ and still actively pursue a life of sin. Those two lifestyles cannot belong together. The cross did not just give us an opportunity to be righteously forgiven of our sin, but it also gave us an opportunity to die to our sin.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Pet. 2:24) It is interesting that after talking of Jesus death peter did not say it was so that we might just be forgiven of our sin. Forgiveness is obviously a key component to Christ’s death and resurrection, but there is still more to it. We are meant to die to sin and live a new life.
Christ’s love asks something of us. The love is freely given, but our acceptance of it means a change will be made. We think of Jesus love in letting the adulterous woman go, but that forgiveness of her sin was followed by a command “Go and sin no more.” It was not a suggestion. It was not a hopeful wish or a simple request. It was a command.
Jesus is calling us to give up everything we are. Christ did not die for us because we are the center of the universe. Christ is the center. He is simply calling us to him now. That call requires a purposeful answer. It requires a life surrendered. It requires all of us. It is a love that can only be understood if it compels you to a changed life. It is a love that will tell you to pick up your cross and follow Christ. We cannot pursue sin and Christ at the same time.
Jesus act of love cost more than we can realize. The truth is the cost of following Him in return is giving up everything we are. God is not working off of our demands and requirements. He does not let us decide how things are going to work. The choice has been placed before us. We can experience a love so freeing, but it requires a death to sin. Your life will change and it will be painful, but you will be free.