13 August, 2023
We all have heard of the breadth and depth of God’s love but I want us to think a moment about our phrase for today.
“Jesus loves you but I’m his favourite”
I think we can all agree on the first part of this phrase, but it is the words that come after the “but” that we could have some challenges with. When the word “but” is used it almost always minimizes the first part of the message – “I think your singing voice is great, but…..” is really not compliment. In fact, it could almost be said that the statement begins by lifting someone up but then tries to lift the person making the statement even higher. I’ve read the following as an explanation – “Trying to be greater than the poor sap whose faith is less than yours misses the whole point of the gospel.”
In our reading for today we encounter Peter just after his encounter with the gentile Cornelius. Remember? The sheet with all the food that the Jewish people have been told not to eat? The voice that tells peter “What God has made clean, you must not call profane”?
Peter has agreed to enter the house of a gentile, something a Jewish person would not do, and to share the gospel of Jesus with a non-Jewish (gentile) person. For a long time the Apostles would only share the good news of Jesus with fellow Jews. The Jewish rules and law wouldn’t allow them to associate with or visit a Gentile.
That was the “but”, Jesus loves you but only if you are Jewish.
I wonder what the “but”s are that we place on the love of Christ? Buts don’t allow inclusivity, buts don’t allow us to see the people or events that are crying out for the love of God. Buts can give us reasons to be selective and choose who we want around. Buts put fences or barriers around the freedom we have in Christ.
The buts are exactly what Christ challenges Peter to remove, to ignore, to get over. Buts are the things we humans put in the paths of those looking for the love of God.
For with God’s love there are no buts. Remember John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.”
There are no buts there.