When people read The Cure, we get this single response almost more than any other: “I don’t get it. You make it sound too easy. Aren’t we supposed to do something?”
Now, stop for just a moment and stare at that question-“Aren’t we supposed to do something?”
Then think about when you first fell in love with another person. Do you remember how you only wanted to learn everything about her or him? You couldn’t do enough. You couldn’t receive enough. You’d lay in bed, with your hands clasped behind your head, smiling and imagining what you could do next that would delight their heart, and bring them good. It was free, unforced, and uncoerced. You probably were never so productive, creative, or most living out of who you were made to be!
Can you imagine how ridiculous it would have felt if someone had challenged that relationship to do something more through should, or ought, or raising the bar, or duty or any other lesser motivation. Love was a stronger and more powerful impetus than any man-fashioned ought could ever be. Only after other junk slipped in and love was marred or no longer trusted, were we ever driven to seek out lesser motivations.
As soon as you find yourself asking, “Aren’t we supposed to do something”, you know your ladder has found its way up against a wrong wall.
We’re not naïve. There are thousands of expressions of love that God reminds us we get to be about. But lovers do them without being manipulated or goaded. They express them by being freed to live out of the very love that has captivated them.
There’s a very, very good reason why Paul says in Romans thirteen that every single possible ought or should is summed up in getting to love your neighbor as yourself.
The reason people feel the need to have someone motivate them, through an appeal to duty or ought or, guilt, or shame, or tough talking…is because they’ve already traded away the best motivation. It is the only motivation we are built, as new creatures, to live out of. The only one. Its what we’ve wanted to do all along. And when we’re not forced into rebellion or compliance by coercion, we take to it like a New Yorker eating an overstuffed deli sandwich.
We don’t need more moral lectures on how we’re supposed to be better, do more, or shape up and not be so lazy in our faith. We know that. We get it. And maybe you can even shame us out of lethargy or laziness for a few days using enough religious patter or inspirational appeal.
But what we really need are winsome teachers who can remind us of why we came in the first place. We need teachers who know how to encourage and woo our new hearts to come out. That’s where the power is, in that new life-the one that has Christ and all of His sovereign strength, love and goodness fused through it.
I know how to avoid, get around, or ignore what I’m even convinced I should, or ought to do. What I cannot avoid, don’t want to avoid, is the aggressively heroic and tirelessly productive response to love. In such a state, I not only do something, I do more than I ever dreamed I would. I surpass duty’s obligation before mid-morning coffee!
It is much easier to motivate by moralism, ought, guilt, compliance and discipline than to teach how to receive love. That’s why so few do the latter. But when you see it in action, when you see it risked, you witness an environment, more often than not, loving each other and the world around them really well. You don’t see it often, because it’s not often tried. But, more and more, people are just about weary enough to start considering this Original Good News again.
This next generation is not negligent to obedience because they haven’t been talked to strongly enough. This generation isn’t lazy or disinterested in spiritual things because they’ve been taught too much grace. This generation has been taught compliance through “ought” that has robbed them of the one gift that will free heartfelt obedience.
The gift starts with the letter “L”.