I came to know about the love of God through Christ when I was 11 at vacation Bible school at my best friend’s church. I remember getting a little Bible (with Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament) and writing in the front the summer date when I accepted Christ as my savior.
I had A LOT to learn. Still do.
The whole God thing was quite ominous as I learned about God’s omnipresence, that he was EVERYWHERE. I was learning how scripture assures us there was no where we could go to flee God’s presence. I was more than a bit terrified of God’s omniscience; God knew everything? To know that God’s knowledge was infinite, that he even knew my words before I spoke them… well sometimes I was afraid to think, lest I think something I shouldn’t because God would know. The final kicker? God was omnipotent, all powerful.
At times I could fool other people, I could hide things as well. But not with God. And that whole package had me scared. (To be fair, I was afraid of lots of things growing up and I didn’t like to do things wrong or disappoint authority figures, which, in reality I did all too often.) Scared because I also knew God was all good, and well, I wasn’t. While I knew that was the reason I needed Jesus, I often was overwhelmed because…
I had a hard time grasping how God’s love changes everything.
I didn’t have difficulting believing that God knew everything, that God’s power was above every other power, that God was good, or even that God was everywhere. But difficulty came in grasping the true meaning of love.
Scripture makes the case plain: all have sinned. My life showed that and my heart continually confirmed. The results of sin as made clear in scripture were evident in my life as well. I could see how sin created brokenness, in myself, between people, in creation and with God. I couldn’t plead the 5th here… God already knew the truth. I couldn’t run away from the consequences… God was everywhere. But, I was missing the best thing.
In this case it really is the best word.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
This thing I was missing, The thing that changes the whole picture: God’s love. But because of HIS love. It wasn’t because of my love for God, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) God didn’t wait for me to be good enough, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Our all good, all powerful, all knowing, and loving God knew the realities of our sin, loved us so much that through Christ He did what we could not…
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
Jesus took upon himself the burden and penalty of our sin so that we could be forgiven.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
In love Jesus gave it all so we could have it all: a life lived with God. That life comes from God’s forgiveness through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. When “you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). And we can know that when we confess our sin, God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
We are forgiven.
Forgiven and adopted as His child.
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12
God, in His love, offers us forgiveness and a life lived with Him. His loving forgiveness changes everything. As we think on all God is, how God loves us, how God’s love through Christ offers us forgiveness and life with Him, our response is to live a life in love of Him. Want to think more on that? Take a read here in Romans 12.
Friends, my prayer for you is that you know the love of God in Christ Jesus, that your heart, mind and daily living are centered in God. Forgiveness has been in the forefront of my life lately, what it is, what it looks like to live life in the assurance of forgiveness. Many of you are struggling with this (even thought it might not be apparent that this is the root cause). Whether it is the struggle to accept the message of God’s love or wrangling with the effects of brokenness permeated throughout life, so many are in need of God’s truth bringing light to their dark times. As continuation, next week I will share deeply from my heart “for those times when you don’t feel forgiven.”