In reading through the Bible, I’ve read up to 1 Samuel 10. Saul was anointed as Israel’s first king. It’s interesting how God facilitated Saul’s appointment even though it’s against God’s will for Israel, whom God called His People.
Perhaps this sets the principle of parenting children who are old enough to know how to choose. Loving parents with sound minds want and know what’s best for their children. However, if the children rebel, the parents need to allow their children make their choices and experience the consequences and stand ready to catch them when they fall and repent.
God told the people through Samuel the consequences of having their human king in 8:10-18 and the people insisted on having one anyway. This is similar to the Genesis 2-3 situation, where God warned Adam and Eve of the consequences of disobedience but they ate the forbidden fruit just the same. And they, all humankind, and all creation suffered the consequences to this day.
We can’t blame our sins and consequences all on Adam and Eve. All humans after Adam and Eve, starting with Abel and Caine, make their own decisions. God wants a loving relationship with us based on free will. God is simply not interested in relating to humans as robots and slaves. Love is a wonderful and bewildering thing that will take us eternity to fully understand.
For the time being, the Bible, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, tells us all we need to know about agápi–the Greek word for the selfless love exemplified by Christ. Jesus explains the highest form of agápi as one man laying down his life for another. Then Jesus lived out that agápi by laying down his life to ransom us from the totality of the ugly consequences of all sins. “[Our] sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the Cross, and [we] bear it no more.”
This is just the first part of the powerful message of the Bible. The Atonement can never be isolated from the Resurrection because Jesus laid down his life so that he can conquer sin and death through his victorious Resurrection. Agápi is not just sacrifice but also the powerful restoration. A human may express his agápi for another by sacrificing their life but God will raise them up again in victory “on that Day”.
This is the powerful message of the Bible we need to communicate to others. God so loves the world that he gives his only Son, i.e. God incarnate, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but has eternal life. Each of us can experience abundant life in Christ when we surrender our life to Christ and receive his Spirit, who will live through us to express agápi to our sphere of influence as we submit to God’s voice.
Ron Allan attended Bridletowne Park Church (our home church in Toronto for thirty years until 2008 when we moved to Ottawa) for the last fifteen years of his life. Ron lived out a life of agápi through his sacrificial services at Bridletowne Park Church. He left a legacy of loving servanthood for those whom he served. He found his “cause” in serving others as mentor and provider for his family and friends. At the end, he lost his final earthly battle to cancer but God has raised him victorious in eternity.
I look forward to seeing Ron again.