I have a love hate relationship with the book of Hosea. Don’t get me wrong, when Redeeming Love came out during my high school days, I wept and devoured that book in one setting. But as my faith and life experiences have matured, the story strikes a different chord. And one of the things I dislike about Hosea is that I always get the story wrong… and I’m embarrassed to admit it happened again this past weekend at church.
“Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” Hosea 3
As I heard pastor Bryan Loritts plead with us to “Go again in LOVE,” I'm ashamed to confess that my heart puffed up as I thought of all the ways I had LOVED big over the years. I went through my spiritual resume and accounts of friends forgiven, good deeds done, and love given and not returned. My heart swelled with pride as I checked off my spiritual list of accomplishments until I reread the passage mid-sermon.
"The Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins." Hosea 3
Wait… If I’m anyone in this story (which I'm not and in general it's a pretty bad practice to look for yourself in the story)... I sure as heck am not Hosea. It’s pretty obvious that the Lord is Hosea… and if He’s Hosea, I'm Gomer.
You see my “cake of raisins” was believing that I’m more like Hosea than Gomer. My love of self pointed my eyes to the good that I have done rather than the best Good that was done for me. My biggest “other god” this weekend was making much of myself instead of making much of Him. And the thing I hate the most is that I didn’t even realize I was doing it, until Scripture smacked me in the face and reminded me that THESE stories in Scripture, the story I’m currently living out… NONE OF IT is about me. These stories, our daily stories, all of them point to a greater redemptive story.
(Side note: Isn't He so good to "go in love" after me AGAIN by opening my eyes to MY sin, rather than letting me relish in my own self-praise?)
Our fuel for going again in love shouldn’t be based in keeping score or even being more like Hosea; rather the reality that we have a better Hosea, the Christ who came down and gave the ultimate sacrifice so all wrongs would one day be righted. THIS changes us so that we can love freely, without condition or self-pride.
It’s the understanding that God has gone again in love for His people since the beginning of time that softens our hearts to see others like Christ does. And boy does Christ look at others differently than we do.
When Christ saw the woman at the well, He didn’t care that it wasn’t “proper” for him to approach her. Because of LOVE, all He saw was a sheep in need of the Good Shepherd, a thirsty life in need of a loving well. He didn’t care what the Pharisees said when He healed the sick on days of rest… because LOVE isn’t restricted to a work week or some self-imposed moral code. And while religious leaders built teams with the morally upright and popular, Jesus surrounded himself with fisherman, tax collectors, and prostitutes… because LOVE knows no societal bounds or labels.
And while God the Father has every right to look on me and say, “She’s not worthy,” Jesus steps in and says, “I have loved her with an everlasting love and I’ve paid her debt with the fiercest LOVE the world has ever known.” And Abba Father smiles and sees a forgiven, redeemed child, just as He planned from the beginning of time.
That is our story! And THIS is what pushes us to forsake theological loopholes and throw “wisdom” to the wind and choose to LOVE BIG, even at risk of being hurt again. There is no good in any of us apart from Christ, and when we read Hosea and push ourselves to “Go Again in Love,” let us also remember our role in this story. We are the hands and feet of LOVE, but only because we have been fiercely loved and gone after… time and time again.
If you have time, I highly recommend to listening to Pastor Loritts message on Hosea. So so good. And ALL that I've written here is based off of musings from his sermon.