The first time that I read St. Augustine’s profound injunction, “Love God and do anything that pleases you,” the words struck my somewhat orthodox mind as being contradictory. After all, how could one possibly love God and at the same time do anything that pleases ones self?
Then, somewhat puzzled, I read those words again and the meaning I believe the author intended suddenly opened up. Perhaps for the genuine Christian, loving God and doing whatever pleases oneself, is one and the same thing. As that venerable scholar, C.S. Lewis so aptly wrote, “To love God is in fact to enjoy Him.”
The Christian - and here I am talking about the ‘second mile' Christian, those rare individuals who not only see 'right' as a duty but as a delight - becomes so enamored with God that goodness seems to flow from him, unrestricted, as water from a subterranean well. Joyful service becomes, in fact, second nature, as it denies any other service. Could this then be 'true' or genuine Christianity, where loving God and loving others, unconditionally, in word and deed, are the defining characteristics?
Many years ago there lived a man called Gasparone. He considered himself a goodly man, one certainly worthy of heaven. The only drawback was that Gasparone was a robber and many times a murderer. Gasparone explained his thinking thus: In all of his life he had never robbed or murdered a man on the the Lord's day.
I fear there are many Gasperones in the church today.
Observing a rule, or adhering to a principle, a command, is in and of itself nothing but blind obedience, such as that given by the mule as it pulls the plow. But, service joyfully given, is acceptable and a joy to our God.
When one loves God, the desire to know him more fully and to follow His spirit more closely, becomes a driving force. This then draws us to his presence again and again, and the oneness Jesus spoke of in John 17 becomes more and more a reality as we ask only that we can hear the voice of incarnate God, see His face, and feel His hand guiding in every aspect of life, no matter how large or how small.
Only in His presence are we complete. Only with Him are we at our best. Out of His presence we are merely shadows swiftly vanishing in the light of the sun, but in His presence we are given substance and we become whole and one with - one with God, and with each other.
Oh what a gift! This then is what we call 'atonement' - at-one-ment. That word tells it all. When we desire, crave, yearn for unity with our God, only then are we complete.
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