Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A New Grading Scale

I was homeschooled for most of my life, (People tell me that explains a lot, but I'm not sure why. Huh.) but I did have a brief stint as your run-of-the-mill, uniformed, mayonnaise-skinned private-school student from kindergarten to second grade. Yes, I came complete with a mushroom-headed bowl-haircut, a gap in my two front teeth, and khaki shorts. And I probably don't even need to mention the fact that my lunchbox always dominated the other kids' - that should be obvious.

During some of those formative years, I was evaluated according to a grading scale that was different from that of the "big kids." Instead of receiving an A, B, C, D, or F, I received some sort of grade that revolved around the word "satisfactory." Either my work was "unsatisfactory," "needs improvement," "satisfactory," "good," or "excellent." Something like that.

Now, according to this scale, one is obligated to recognize that "satisfactory" is pretty much a C. Sure, it technically meets the requirements of the assignment or test, but getting this grade doesn't fill you with the joy that an "excellent" would. This is because the standard for "satisfactory" was set pretty low.

If I were to tell you that God's love was just satisfactory, you would not rejoice.

Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days. (Hosea 2)
If you haven't read Hosea, it is essentially God using an adulteress as a metaphor for the nation of Israel's unfaithfulness to Him. Hosea's wife, Gomer, whored herself away to the pleasures and enticements of other men. So, in order to display God's faithfulness, He tells Hosea to go and pay to get Gomer back.

Gomer's central problem was her idea that Hosea's love wasn't good enough - it may have been "satisfactory," but in no way did she see it as "excellent" as the pleasures she chased. In the same way, Israel saw God's love as only meeting the requirements but not as fulfillment for the soul.

And so do we.

But today, I make an effort to challenge the grading scale. I say that "satisfactory" and "excellent" are one and the same when it comes to the concept of our need and God's love. If the requirement for our hearts to be at rest is a never-ending, all-fulfilling, perfectly-complete kind of love, then anything that could satisfy those requirements would be automatically considered as "excellent." In this way, the "satisfactory" becomes the "excellent," over and above the devastating emptiness of the pleasures that this world offer.

This is why the people of Israel come back, as shown in Hosea 2. They are tired of the brokenness and deceit of worldly pleasure and come back "to His goodness in the latter days."

Dear child, will God's love be satisfactory for you today, or will you chase the abyss?


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