There are things that puzzle one over the years, and the mind stores them up. Then they come leaping out unexpectedly and bite you, like a shark in a closet.
Here is one of those things that puzzled me, mildly, but consistently. I don’t know very much about Dr. Robert Delnay, but I have heard him speak once or twice. I have heard him more than once say that you can’t go to heaven for loving Jesus. I have been puzzled about why he thought it important to emphasize that particular point, that it isn’t love. It is probably the only thing he has said I clearly remember, but I remember it, and it has puzzled me.
Last night at church something odd happened: they picked Jesus Loves Me, not, for example, In Thy Wrath and Hot Displeasure. I know all the verses of Jesus Loves Me, but think about it? Not in years. Nor sung it. So I was singing it, wondering if it was simple or naive or just a cliché the way one does when one sings something unexpected with fundamentalist connections (for me) in the back of the hymnal, and we got to the last verse where it says something like this: if I love him when I die, he will give me apple pie, or heaven. Jesus, that is, will provide salvation to any cheerful child who loves him at the point of death. Then I wished I had remembered that before singing the thing all the way up to there.
I have a feeling that this is where the odd emphasis on denying the saving efficacy of love comes from. I could be wrong, but at that moment, the mind moved that minor problem forward and clicked with satisfaction. And even if I’m wrong, I won’t puzzle over it now.