A couple of years ago Tim Keller tweeted: "Religion stresses holiness over grace. Irreligion stresses freedom over holiness. Christianity is freedom through Grace that leads to holiness."
We're going to keep exploring this incredible Love God has for us.
We struggle to love all - but God doesn't. We struggle to obey in every situation - God doesn't. Our struggle stirs up God's Grace far more often than His wrath - so much so that in the Kingdom of God receiving God's Love is synonymous with receiving His Grace - and as often as not the result is the stuff of punch-lines. His love turns murderers into missionaries, fallen women into evangelists, angry fishermen into apostles, diminutive tax-collectors into tree-climbing philanthropists, and on and on. The Gospels are full of outcomes of encounters with God's Grace & Love that inspire.
What shocks me is how often - especially in the New Testament - Jesus risks extreme love and grace on people that even made the disciples wonder - such as the Rich Young Ruler (Mark I0) and the 9 lepers (Luke I7). I mean - Jesus doesn't go back and unheal the nine lepers who didn't stay to say thanks. They scurry off yet somehow their response inspires gratitude. Jesus' grace towards me makes the people in those accounts look like safe bets. And yet that's precisely the point. It's the "bad bets" that need Jesus. It's the "safe" bets that sometimes incur His ire. And it's not remotely about the "bets" bad or otherwise.
It is about that Lavish Love that started whole universe on a path towards the cross. It's the Lavish Love that morphs a symbol of shame and torture into a global symbol of Love & Grace - and a place where we take refuge.