There are two ways to hide from God’s love – rebellion and religion. Rebellion, illustrated in the prodigal son, defies God’s love and seeks to cover up guilt and shame through the indulgence of sensual desires. Religion, on the other hand, is far more subtle. It seeks its cover-up through good works and obligation. However, like the prodigal’s older brother, it still denies the Father’s place in our lives and leads us no closer to knowing him for who he really is.
Simply, religion is keeping score – striving for acceptance through our own performance whether it be in our good works or in ritualistic activities. Those things put the focus squarely on us and what we can do to be accepted by God, thereby dooming us to failure.
Most of Paul’s letters were written because even the earliest believers found themselves trading relationship for religion. Instead of learning to live in the security of his love, they would go back to traditions, creeds, disciplines, and laws as an attempt to earn it themselves. He reminded them again and again that God’s love would take them further than their own efforts and achievements ever would…
What would you do today if you knew God absolutely loved you?
He Loves Me: Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection, Windblown, 2007, 137-8