We Count Because He Loves Us


One of the things we most need to remember as we wander the paths of Lenten mortifications is that while we may be dust, we are, in the eyes of God, gold, platinum, or diamond dust.

from Death on a Friday Afternoon
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus

Again, St. Paul says God was in Christ "not counting their trespasses against them." Atonement is not an accountant's trick. It is not a kindly overlooking; it is not a not counting of what must count if anything in heaven or on earth is to matter. God could not simply decide not to count without declaring that we do not count.

But someone might say that, if God is God, he could do anything. Very well, then, God would not decide not to count because he would not declare that we do not count. And yet God's "would" implicates and limits his "could." The God of whom we speak is not, in the words of Pascal, the God of the philosophers but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the God of unbounded freedom who wills to be bound by love. God is what he wills to be and wills to be what he is. St. John tells us, "God is Love," and love always binds. In the seminars of philosophical speculation, many gods are possible. In the arena of salvation's story, God is the God who is bound to love.

Because God is a Father, He looks upon us with love. What we are and what we want and what we do and how we go about it--all of these things and more matter to Him deeply. Because they matter, He cannot chose to make them less important by merely ignoring them--pretending they don't exist. And yet, while He wills that they matter out of His Love, He also wills that we all come home to Him--but only if we want to return. We stand in the place of choice in this matter--but His will is clear--love would not lose one. Not a sparrow can fall without it being known and counted and mattering. And if a sparrow matters, so much more so that creature who is in the very image of God.

So while we're wearing our sackcloth and ashes and bringing to mind how unworthy and terrible and what great failures we are as people, we would do well to remind ourselves that that is not God's vision at all. Those thoughts are not God's thoughts about us. Just as we would not think that a one-year old who stumbles and falls trying to walk is unworthy, terrible, or a failure, so too God does not regard us in such a way. Rather, His gaze is completely love--limitless, unconditional, eternal.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 15, 2008 8:50 AM.

"Not Counting Our Trespasses Against Us. . ." was the previous entry in this blog.

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