Saturday, 30 August 2008

Power and Love

Barclay (1975), in a commentary on Mark 14:17-21, says “Here is the whole human situation. God has given us wills that are free. His love appeals to us. His truth warns us. But there is no compulsion. We hold the responsibility that we can spurn the appeal of God's love and disregard the warning of his voice. In the end there is no one but ourselves responsible for our sins” (p 391).

Barclay makes this comment in response to a passage where Jesus openly speaks of one of the disciples betraying him. Jesus never says which one. Barclay says that Jesus could have stopped Judas or if he had identified him, the other disciples would have taken action to stop Judas. But that isn't God's way. God doesn't force his will upon us. He appeals to us to follow the path that he desires for us. In the end, the choice is ours.

The consequences of not hearing God's appeal are all around us. As Barclay says we are responsible for our sins. Without that being the case, we would not learn or turn away from sin.

If God in his power continually moved to stop us or to cover over the consequences, why should we stop doing things that have the potential for disastrous consequences. Those consequences would never happen so the actions no longer matter.

In Barclay's commentary on Mark 13:3-6, 21-23, he talks about the antinomians who believed in nothing but grace. The law was abolished. To go on sinning was to ensure that God's grace continued to grow. If god stepped in to stop the consequences of our actions then we could argue the same. Why stop if it allows God to show more of his power. It doesn't matter what we do God will always stop us. We lose our responsibility for our actions.

Love seeks us to follow but it does not force us to do do even if it is within the power of the lover to do so.


Barclay, W. (1975). The gospel of Mark (revised ed.). Edinburgh: The Saint Andrews Press.

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