I want to use a song from Jonathan & Melissa Helser’s latest album, Beautiful Surrender, to share my testimony about what God has done in me. This song is titled, “Outrageous Love” (written by Ed Cash and Jonathan David Helser, 2016).
Whenever I introduce my book, Sonshift, I will usually say something to the effect that it’s a story about how the Father’s outrageous love saved me after almost 25 years of being a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled Christian!
I’m not trying to be clever, nor do I mean to imply that Bible-believing” and being “Spirit-filled” is bad. I still heartily embrace both. I’m also not saying that salvation is something more than by grace through faith in the finished work of the cross of Christ.
What I mean is that I was “saved” from a gospel that didn’t bring great joy, only burdensome requirements—a spiritually superstitious, sin-obsessed, fear-mongering “orphan” version of Christianity that was depleting my soul.
My understanding of God’s love was very conditional (although I never consciously thought of it that way). As the apostle Paul would say, it was a “bewitching” mixture of law and grace. It was “another gospel” that I and most devoted believers I knew embraced, and many still do embrace (Gal.1:6-9; 3:1-5). It was a disempowering illusion separating me from Love, the worst form of identity theft, a perverse lie that induced me to beg God to come and do what He had already done in Christ.
This “salvation” was when I lost my religion for a life in the Father’s embrace.
Oh, and by the way…I was a pastor and leader for over 1o years by this time (2oo1), so I was both the perpetrator and a victim of this faulty construct.
While I believe our current popular version of Christianity is broken, God is also at work changing it…He’s upgrading us! My attempt to give voice to this shift is the reason for my book and this blog. As James Jordan said at a conference a few years ago…
“I believe we are seeing today a unique day in the body of Christ. I believe we’re living in a day unprecedented since the days of the apostles. We’re living in a day where God is revealing Himself to us as Father. And because the Father is love, His love is becoming available to us like it hasn’t been for 2,000 years. And as that love is coming, it’s turning our Bibles upside down, inside-out, back to front. It is turning our Christianity, upside-down, inside-out, back to front. It is, for the first time, putting us in the place where we can enjoy our life more than sinners.” (James Jordan, “What Christianity is, and is not.”)
I wrote about my particular “conversion” in a post titled, “Don’t give your life to Jesus and then lose your soul.” This story subsequently ended up in the book (expanded in the book).
What I’m saying is what this song declares…”I’ve been saved by a Father’s love.”
When I personally encountered the Father’s outrageous love in 2001, after what I referred to as my “glorious crash” in the book, I was “introduced to a ridiculously loving Father that I had never known in my natural life. And He took my brokenness and began a slow process of healing my heart and giving me His.” (Sonshift, p. 37). To say that everything changed after this encounter is a major understatement! Although, I’m still changing and growing as I continue living in His constant embrace.
I love this part of the song…
There’s nothing I could do
That would ever make You love me more
There’s nothing I could do
That would ever make You love me less.
It echoes what I’ve heard Graham Cooke say on several occasions. Here’s an example:
“There is nothing you can do that can make Him love you more; there is also nothing you can do to make Him love you less. He loves you because He loves you…” (Graham Cooke, “God Loves You Outrageously“)
It also reminds me of Brennan Manning (author of Ragamuffin Gospel)…
“God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.” (“All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir“)
By the way, I got a chance to see Brennan Manning a couple of times and briefly talked to him once. He was a big influence in my life (through his ministry and books) when I needed a lot of inner healing of my orphan heart. He taught me a lot about how to open my heart to Abba’s love.
Precious sought-out one, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?” God says, “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.” (See Matt.11:28-30 MSG). If you’ve never experienced this Father’s love, open your heart to Him today. Receive His warm embrace. And if you already have, may you experience greater depths of His beautiful and outrageous affection for you as you listen to this song!