The Unconditional Love of God

Here are some thoughts from Brennan Manning on the unconditional love of God:

It is sad to say, but the familiar phrase “the unconditional love of God” has become cliche, a true but trite expression devoid of any real meaning. Words, like anything else used too often, soon depreciate in value, lose their edge, and cease to bite into our lives. When phrases, such as unconditional love, trip too easily off the tongue, the speaker’s ego may experience a temporary rush of exhilaration using an in salvation slogan, but his heart remains unchanged.

How do I know this? Well, I have long been smitten with concepts. They engage my mind, rustle my thought process, and stir my emotions. Unconditional love as a concept has transported me to intellectual nirvana, motivated the reading of at least fifty books on related themes, and deluded me into believing that I was there. Until along came a day when I was appalled to discover that nothing had changed. It was all a head trip. Lofty thoughts and impersonal concepts left my lousy self-image intact and my way of praying unchanged.

Until the love of God that knows no boundary, limit, or breaking point is internalized though personal decision; until the furious longing of God seizes the imagination; until the heart is conjoined to the mind through sheer grace, nothing happens. The idolatry of ideas has left me puffed up, narrow-minded, and intolerant of any idea that does not coincide with mine.

The wild, unrestricted love of God is not simply an inspiring idea. When it imposes itself on mind and heart with the stark reality of ontological truth, it determines why and at what time you get up in the morning, how you pass your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, and who you hang with; it affects what breaks your heart, what amazes you, and what makes your heart happy.

The revolutionary thinking that God loves me as I am and not as I should be requires radical rethinking and profound emotional readjustment.

From The Furious Longing of God, pp. 74-75.

Cramming for Exams

OK, this is my last G. H. Lang quote for today. I promise.

It was of God that at this susceptible age I was under the influence of Mr. McCall, this wise Christian teacher. I owe him much. He taught but did not force his pupils. There were examinations, but he had little belief in them; he considered “cramming” for them to be injurious and the passing of examinations by this means to be fallacious as a test of knowledge and ability. He said it was like stuffing string into a box and getting it out again, if you could. There is something in this simile, for if knowledge so gained is recovered by the memory it is too often like tangled string, confused and troublesome.

 

Importance of Punctuality

Here’s another quote from G. H. Lang. This time he’s talking about the virtue of punctuality, learned by him as a child.

The virtue of punctuality had been formed by us children having to be at the breakfast table at 6.30 a.m., summer and winter, and by the example of our dear father who left at 7.10 to catch the 7.20 train to London (never without reading a Scripture and praying with us), so as to be at his office by 8.30 to open the heavy mail of the wholesale house where he was chief of the counting house. The habits of far too many young people today are deplorable. At school, at college, in one of the services, they are compelled to be punctual; but the moment holidays or furloughs start they lapse into complete disregard of time and of the courtesy due to others, and waste hours of the morning in bed. It shows an absence of morals in doing what is wise and right; they are in time only so long as they must be so, not at all because it is good and right. Yet of all the things we use time is easily the most valuable, for some of it must be expended on every other act. Some words of Gladstone to the students of St. Andrews University made in me a lasting impression. I give them from memory: “Gentlemen, let me recommend to you thrift of time. It will repay you with a usury beyond your utmost expectations.”

 

G. H. Lang’s Conversion

Proofreading G. H. Lang’s autobiography, An Ordered Life, is like rediscovering buried treasure. I am reminded of so many things that captured my mind and heart the first time I read it many years ago, and am finding many things I have forgotten. The account of his conversion at 7 years of age is classic. Read it and be blessed:

I was recovering from an illness, scarlatina I think. My mother sat by my bed and talked with me, quietly and simply; and as she spoke the Spirit of Truth spoke by her and made the truth effective. She said nothing more than I had heard from infancy, but what new and powerful influence it exerted! She spoke of sin: I felt myself the veriest sinner under the sun. No particular sins were mentioned, but there rose before me childish falsehoods, petty pilferings, anger, disobedience. I saw these as guilt, as wickedness, as making me obnoxious to the holy God and His holy wrath. I had not been brought up in a morbid, prudish, restrained manner, constantly checked, reproved, restricted, but in a simple, healthy, happy atmosphere. There can be no accounting for this sudden, intelligent, overwhelming perception of the true nature of sin by a child of seven but as a fulfilment of the words of the Son of God, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come He shall convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).

My mother spoke of God, His holiness, His anger against sin, and the coming judgment. Her words were few, but oh, the solemnity they caused to settle upon my heart. She went on to remind me of His infinite love, love so mighty that He sent into the world His only and beloved Son on purpose to save sinners, for though He hates sin He loves the sinner. And I thought and felt what a wonderful, amazing thing it is that the great and holy God, who made the stars and this great earth, loved a naughty, sinful little boy like me. If I but shut my eyes, and lean back in my chair in thought, again I feel the hot tears that trickled down my cheeks as the sense of this overwhelming love of God melted my heart. Continue reading