Gratitude is not love.
I hear many sermons telling “Christians” that they should be doing good works because that’s what Christians are supposed to do. Often accompanied by talk of how much God has sacrificed to save them, so they should worship (serve) him out of gratitude.
That’s like telling someone who (supposedly) loves chocolate, that he should eat chocolate out of gratefulness to the guy who bought him that chocolate.
A waste of breath.
Matthew 13:44-46 New International Version (NIV)
The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
It may be possible to guilt-trip someone who hates chocolate, into eating one, because it is supposed to be good: expensive, made by a master chocolatier, he sacrificed his life for it, etc. “Just be grateful and eat it.” Yuck.
“Christians” don’t realise that pretending to like chocolate by shoving some down their own throats occasionally, doesn’t actually make them a chocolate lover.
A true chocolate lover, is grateful for the chocolate, because he actually appreciates (loves) the chocolate.
A fake one, pretends to be grateful for the chocolate, and eats it only when someone is looking (or merely out of guilt).
And God says, the fake ones can just f*** off.
Matthew 7:21-23 New International Version (NIV)
True and False Disciples
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
1 John 2:4-6 Common English Bible (CEB)
4 The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. 5 But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him. 6 The one who claims to remain in him ought to live in the same way as he lived.
“Christians” resort to the futile “just be grateful and eat it” argument, because they do not see the beauty of God’s kingdom. In their minds, God’s Kingdom™ is like waiting to enter some after-death fantasy theme park where they are free to indulge themselves in pleasures beyond comprehension (or just to escape hell).
But actually, God’s kingdom = God’s reign = God’s rule. To enter God’s kingdom is to become subject to God’s law. And only those who love God’s law will enter it, i.e. those who actually appreciate the beauty in fulfilling God’s commandments.
The Greek word for “kingdom” (emphasis mine):
1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule
1a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom
1b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah
1c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah’s kingdom
2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king
3) used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah
Good guy Young’s Literal Translation, the only English translation to accurately communicate the idea of God’s rule, instead of Disneyland®:
Matthew 13:44-46 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
44 `Again, the reign of the heavens is like to treasure hid in the field, which a man having found did hide, and from his joy goeth, and all, as much as he hath, he selleth, and buyeth that field.
45 `Again, the reign of the heavens is like to a man, a merchant, seeking goodly pearls,
46 who having found one pearl of great price, having gone away, hath sold all, as much as he had, and bought it.