Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday morning ramblings

Being a Christian is hard. Our faith demands of us that we acknowledge how far we've fallen from the righteousness of God and how deeply we have hurt not only Him but ourselves in our rebellion and our waywardness. Scripture holds nothing back in describing how deeply we've wounded the heart of God; we are not only a people who have turned from our Creator, in the language of Scripture we are adulterers, we are a child who has scorned our Father's life and left him for dead, and Paul goes so far as to describe us as the enemies of God in our sin.

These descriptions of us are difficult to stomach. But even more difficult to fathom is God's response to them.

To the people who have turned from their Creator, God says:
"Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" Romans 9:25

To His adulterous Bride, God says:
"On that day, says the Lord, you will no longer call me 'Master,' but 'Husband.'... I will take you forever for my bride, in justice, steadfast love, and mercy. I will take you as my bride in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord." Hosea 2:16, 19

Regarding the child who left his father for dead and wandered away, we are told:
"But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20

And in the same place Paul calls us God's enemy, he puts forth one of the most amazing assertions about God's scandalous love I've ever heard:
"But God proves His love for us in this: while we were yet God's enemies, Christ died for us." Romans  5:8

Jesus Christ is there for us when we fall. When we fail, He is our victory. When we're lost, He is our Shepherd. When we stray, He is our desperately in love husband, who will take us back after anything, if we only so much as desire and ask Him to.

I think a lot of Christians forget about the true depth of this love. I know a lot of people who have given up on Christianity because it's hard and it's demanding. I know a lot of people who struggle through Christianity because they can't be perfect for a Perfect God.

But God's love isn't just a nice cliche we toss around to make ourselves feel better. It is the deepest and most fundamental aspect of our existence. It is God's love that cradles us in existence right now. It is His breath that gives us life right now. It is because of His desire that we exist that we continue to exist at all. The Holy Spirit reveals through Job that if God wanted to, He could just stop thinking about us and we'd return to the dust from which we were made. We would revert back to nothingness, and God wouldn't be affected in the least. He doesn't need us. He is wholly self-sufficient. He lacks nothing in Himself.

But, my God, how He loves us.

Scripture doesn't just set out to declare our fallen relationship to God in unabashedly harsh language. Scripture's climactic purpose rests on its declaration of God's relationship to us.

"Can a woman forget the child at her breast, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you." Isaiah 49:15

"I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them." Hosea 11:4

"The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He will rise up and show compassion." Isaiah 30:18

"The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior. He rejoices over you with gladness, He renews you in His love, He sings with joy because of you." Zephaniah 3:17

I could go on, and on, and on.

Sometimes (often, really) we are hesitant toward God. We sin. We fail. But God is never hesitant in embracing us in love.

A Christian is not someone who is perfect. A Christian is someone who continually acknowledges their need for Jesus and responds to the grace He extends. A Christian is someone who is intimately aware of their need for God, and seeks Him out.

We have nothing to be afraid of, and in some ways, even nothing to be ashamed of. God's love is more than all we could ever dream or hope for.

Don't be afraid to approach it.

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