In a land and a time very much like our own, there was once two families, each with one son. Both families lived and worked and worshiped in the same neighborhood, in similar jobs, and at the same church.
One family, the Smith’s, loved their son Bobby and gave him everything his heart desired. Bobby’s mother and father centered their lives and home around his well-being, comfort, and pleasure. They ate what Bobby liked, they vacationed where Bobby chose, watched the shows Bobby wanted to watch. Bobby never went to bed without his supper or felt the sting of discipline. They loved Bobby with all of their heart.
The other family, the Cooper’s, loved their son Johnny. They did not give Johnny everything he desired. Johnny’s mother and father considered each request in light of Johnny’s maturity and growth. They chose foods that would be healthy and balanced. They choose vacations that were fun and educational and affordable. Johnny’s parents chose when and what shows he could watch. Johnny did go the bed without his supper a few times and felt the sting of discipline. They loved Johnny with all their heart.
Which family loved their son? They both did. The difference is that one had a short view of love, the other had a long view of love. The Smith’s concern was today, what was good for Bobby today, how could his life be made happy today. The Cooper’s concern was for all the tomorrows in Johnny’s future and how they could mold and equip him for that future.
Many today want Jesus’ love to be like the Smith’s; to be concerned with their happiness for today. That their wants and desires and proclivities and sins would be accepted without judgment. That Jesus would say like he said to the woman caught in adultery, (paraphrased) “no one condemns you and neither do I”. (John 8:1-11) This act, these words, by Jesus is taken to mean that anything they choose to do or be is okay with Him.
Surely Jesus does care about our today’s but he also cares about our tomorrows. His love is not centered on our happiness and contentment, but on our growth and maturity so that we too may love as He loves. His love is also concerned about eternity, about all of our tomorrows, and provided the way to be with Him forever. I spoke of the woman caught in adultery. What some fail to see are Jesus’ last words to her, “From now on sin no more.” You see, while Jesus helped her to escape the wrath of the mob He didn’t leave her in her sin. Jesus final word to her was not a suggestion, it was a command. Jesus similarly spoke the same words to the man healed at Bethesda but added, “so that nothing worse happens to you”. (John 5:14) In both cases, Jesus addressed the today issues but also those of tomorrow and eternity.
Yes, Jesus loves us! He loves us in our todays but also loves us for our tomorrows. He loves us in such a way so as to shape and mold us for His own purposes. As such, we may occasionally go to bed hungry and feel the sting of discipline. We may not get the wants and desires of our will. But, our wills and desires will be reformed and reshaped to His own by His love.
The question is this – How do you want to be loved? Like the Smith’s or like the Cooper’s? To be loved like the Cooper’s means submitting to that love. To accept discipline when needed. To understand that the world does not revolve around us but God. To recognize that the arbiter and decider of Sin is God and not us. To willingly accept His molding and shaping and changing of our thoughts, will, and direction. And finally, to understand that God may say no or wait at times in answer to our prayers. So, how do you want to be loved?