This morning, I heard Robert Jeffers tell a story about the late game show host Ray Combs that I cannot confirm in its entirety, but I find was told in the book The Anchor Course by Tom Goodman. Apparently towards the end of his run as host of Family Feud, one night as he introed the contestants, he noticed one wearing a lapel button that had on it 2 question marks- an evangelical group's ice breaker. He asked what it meant, and the contestant said that they represented the two most important questions anyone could ever ask. Ray took the bait. "The first one", he was told, "is, if you died today, would you have assurance of getting into heaven?" Combs replied he wasn't going to answer that on national TV, but his curiosity got the best of him and he asked about the second question. He was told, "The second question is, "Suppose you were to die today and you stood before the Lord and He asked, why should I let you into my heaven?" what would you say?"
Ray answered, "Because I'm host of Family Feud, and everybody loves me!" The crowd laughed, and the show began. But not long after, he was fired- a job he reportedly found demeaning in the first place- and shortly thereafter hung himself in a hospital closet.
So, is Love enough?
Certainly it is a big part of what God has done- John 3:16, y'all- but God has a lot of other essential qualities. Several of them came up over and over again in my search through the concordance. One was that He is a jealous God. He was first; He is greatest; there are none before Him. Even the devil apparently dares not dispute that, not yet anyway; I have read in the Apocrypha where Satan once claimed that the main difference between himself and God is that God arose first from the primordial energy ooze and thus got to set the rules. Another that gets mentioned a lot is His role as our refuge and our strength- seemingly always paired together, both a shelter when the storm is to much and the strength to brave it anyway. Another area often mentioned is His just Judgment, that He is "no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34)" is "not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent (Numbers 23:1)", and "is angry at the wicked every day (Psalms 7:11)".
And also, His mercy comes up a lot, and His salvation. But you know what I would have answered Glen? I would have answered him the answer that would answer all the "but why did He..." questions, better than love, better than just, better than mercy.
Lev 19:2 Say to all the people of Israel, You are to be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.
Holy tells us God is pure, unchanging in all things, and righteous in a blow. This is what John means in 1 Jn 1:5-
1Jn 1:5 And this is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
I rather like they way I was taught this verse back in the day- "In Him there is no shadow of turning." He doesn't change. He is HOLY.
I can see where, without God, I'd have been the same as Ray Combs- though I would have prolly been more of a "head in the oven" kinda guy. But God loved me enough that, even at lowest ebb and my most ignoring of Him, He fit me with one thing that would keep me going when all else failed- a little voice that said, "But what if tomorrow is better?" Doesn't sound much like love as WE understand it. And it can't be explained by love as we conceive it. But when we put God as sovereign, when we allow Him to be not just loving, but HOLY- it makes perfect sense. Because HOLY is something beyond what we are, beyond what we are capable of on our own. And until we set aside all the pride, all the science, all the human experience, and see God AS beyond us and holy, we have no clue.
I may have done this before... having studied runes in the past, I realize they were conceived with balances in between all the pairs of signs- except one set:
The first is Algiz:
It is the symbol of man trying to reach up to God- but never quite touching.
The other is Sowilo, God reaching to touch man:
"Hey, that's a lightning bolt." Yep. Get the picture? God is above us, infinitely more powerful than us, can bring ultimate justice, or mercy. And HE can touch US.
So yeah, Glen, love is the glue with which God holds us together. We can do all things with love. But we cannot touch God just with love. We cannot enter heaven just with love. If we could, we'd never need Christ. But need Him we do, because we have to bring more than love to the table to get in the door. We have to be HOLY, as God is holy. And that's where Jesus comes in.