What’re the facts I believe the bible tells us?
The facts are God is always good, he is persistently loving, he is gracious and he has given up so much to have an intimate relationship with us.
The facts are sometimes that intimacy can feel lost, it can feel as if our senses have been turned off and God is distant.
The facts are that sin (when we do something God wouldn’t want us to do) is the one and ultimate thing that can get in the way of us and God, can separate us and cause a divide. That is also the one thing Jesus died to overcome, to overcome the punishment we deserve for our sin, and remove the absence of God from our sin-stained lives by cleansing us by his blood and life’s sacrifice.
The final fact I believe and wish to mention here, is one I realised this morning during some time I spent praying and listening to God. God’s endless grace, his furious love for us, isn’t meant to clear our consciences so that we can go on sinning, knowing that when we say sorry and turn back to him, he’ll forgive us again and again – it’s meant to change us. It’s not a wind which we can feel stir our current flow in life, it’s meant to change the entire direction of the atmosphere we find ourselves in when we sin – it turns things upside-down.
This is how it is, and this is exactly what time and time again we should be asking ourselves:
Firstly, do we believe this?
Second, do we live like we believe it?
Thirdly, what then must we do a full 180′ turn away from, and not just stumble in the wrong direction, every now and then turning our heads to catch a glimpse of our heart-broken, heavenly father’s smile as we seem to turn back to him, but then allow ourselves to be unchanged by his grace and slide onwards towards the other side of the inevitable chasm of sin.
If I’m perfectly honest, it’s scary when I think of what I must turn from. It’s uncomfortable to say the least. These are things I find affirmation in, things I find comfort from, things that give me short-term worldly satisfaction but cause deep spiritual damage as they try to prise their way into the space in my heart that should be God’s. These things try to take the place of my Affirmer which should be solely God’s position and God’s only. They can be disguised as noble things, such as grades and hard-work or they can be blatantly against God’s will, like self-righteousness or unforgiveness. They can be very personal individual things, or very relational – how we witness Jesus to others, how we treat those we dislike or how we value our community.
As I write this, and I’m sure as you read this you may feel convicted, you may have things crop into your mind which you know aren’t quite right, which you would much rather forget them again than address them and change. But let me tell you this: When Jesus said he came to give us not only life but life in all its fullness (John 10:10 – check out The Message translation) he wasn’t kidding.
Let me tell you what is actually, truly so much more rewarding and affirming than grades, reputation or wealth – combined! God’s love, his intimate presence, the joy that comes from wholeheartedly serving him – THAT is what is ultimately fulfilling. And I don’t just say that: I mean it! I am guilty of forgetting this time and time again, of ignoring that truth because it takes effort, let’s face it, to turn from earthly joys which can be so addictively un-satisfying that we feel the pursuit of them will bring ultimate fulfillment. I am guilty of resenting the effort God what’s me to make to be pure and holy for Him – how mad does that sound in light of what God is offering me in return!
My heavenly father wants what’s best for me, no doubt about it. He wants to spend precious time with me, work with me, in me and through me. But one thing I know, we can’t do that unless his presence in within us; and what drains it out of us? Sin.
I ask myself when will I learn, when will I get it all right?! The answer: probably never. But today, I choose again, I choose again what is right, what is glorifying, what is holy before Him, what is pleasing to Him. Him who saves me, fulfils me, recreates me and loves me. I say that for today, the decisions I make will honour him, I will not ignore the conscience he has given me, the spirit he has placed inside me to lead me and prompt me. I will not ignore his grace and will instead fully accept it and comprehend what it is he wants to pour it over in order to transform, not just to soothe.
God’s grace is there, freely given, not just to pander our guilty consciences but to turns us round 180′ to walk in the light, the brightest light and to live the fullest life imaginable.
“He asks nothing from us, but demands we give our all” – Warren Barfield