Do you ever wonder what God thinks about you? Is He mad at you when you mess up? Is He watching and waiting to issue swift judgment? Will He overlook your mistakes if your good outweighs your bad? Can you know for certain what lies beyond the grave? Are you ever afraid of that unknown? Is it possible to find true peace, lasting peace, peace that can weather life’s storms, peace that can stare death in the face with quiet confidence? And what about joy? Does it seem to elude you? Are there any absolute answers to these questions?
I may not know you, or maybe I do. But either way, you alone know the questions you wrestle with. Those nagging thoughts that keep you awake at night. Those fears that rob your joy, your peace, your vitality. Those questions that lurk in the shadows of your consciousness.
Can I just share my heart with you? I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But I have found the One who does. I’ve met Someone who has absolutely revolutionized my life and my heart. Someone so dazzlingly beautiful, so infinitely wise, so unthinkably good, so supernaturally strong. Someone worthy of my trust. Someone able to handle my doubts and questions. Someone strong enough to mend my brokenness. Someone loving enough to sacrifice Himself for my good. This Someone so good, so wise, so pure, so loving, so strong…is Jesus. I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned from Him.
You are loved, regardless of your performance, your past, your personality. He wants you – you were made for the purpose of having a relationship with Him. He was willing to pay an unthinkable price to make that relationship possible. You see, the one problem in this whole relationship thing is sin. It’s a little word packed full of ugliness and all that defiles. And it has infected us all – the whole human race. We are born with a sin nature because of the sin of the first man, Adam. He chose to defy God’s one command and thus ushered sin into the world (see Genesis 1-3). Since that day, every one of us have also chosen sin. Some may seem more sinful than others. But in reality, we all have sinned (Romans 3:23).
God, on the other hand, is perfectly pure. There is no wickedness in Him. And He cannot tolerate sin. It can’t be near Him. Does that seem to contradict what I’ve said thus far? His love and His purity – are they mutually exclusive? On the contrary, they are like two sides of the same coin.
Before God created mankind, He knew that we would choose self over God. He foresaw our rebellion and made a plan before the foundation of the world. A plan for our redemption that would cost Him dearly. A plan that would demonstrate the unfathomable depth of His affection toward us (see Ephesians 1:3-14). You see, the consequence of sin is death – physical and spiritual (Romans 6:23). All who sin deserve to separated from God in hell – a place He has created for the devil and his demons (Matthew 25:41). It is not God’s desire that any person go to hell (2 Peter 3:9).
So, the rescue plan…He sent His Son Jesus to live among us. Jesus took on human flesh – He took on our human limitations, human frailties, human nature – with the exception of one thing. As the God-man, He did not take on our sin nature. He was tempted by the devil himself (see Matthew 4 and Luke 4). He experienced the struggle we face, but was victorious. He kept the Law of God on our behalf, then willingly suffered on the cross in our place. And He conquered death three days later when He rose from the dead.
The Holy One, the Just God, can now offer forgiveness to all who will come to Him in faith. His justice demands that sin be punished. But His love, His mercy, triumphed over that judgment when the Sinless One tasted death for us (James 2:13). Because of this, the sin that separated us from God like an impenetrable wall can be erased (Psalm 103:12). We can have uninhibited access to the Most High God (Ephesians 2:18, 3:12 Hebrews 4:16).
All of this and more are ours when we place our faith in Jesus (Ephesians 1:3) – not just acknowledging Him with our heads, but fully placing all we are, all we have in His hands. Abandoning ourselves to the One who loves us. Trusting in Him alone – not our own goodness, not another person or belief system. Coming to God empty handed so we can receive all He has for us.
This is how we begin a relationship with God. It’s how our sin and guilt and shame can be erased. But this “gospel” story does more than just put us in right standing with God. It’s more than “fire insurance,” by which we escape hell and secure a home in heaven. It also has the power to revolutionize our daily lives here and now.
First Corinthians 1:18 refers to us Christians as those who are being saved. When you trust in Christ for forgiveness and salvation, you are saved eternally, irrevocably, from sin’s punishment (Titus 3:4-7). It’s paid for – past tense. But we still live in this world. We still have human bodies and souls that are susceptible to temptation. We still experience hurt and need healing and the ability to forgive. We grow weary and need refreshment and joy. We face frightening things and need renewed peace. That’s where the being saved – present tense – comes in.
Jesus – His perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection – He is the key to living a life of peace, joy, and power. To clarify, I am not saying that Jesus heals all your sicknesses, makes you wealthy, and eliminates heartache. Those who offer this are living in and preaching a fairy-tale, or they have ulterior motives. Christians all over the world are imprisoned, being tortured or dying for their faith right now. No, Christianity is not a ticket to an easy life. But it is the promise that you will never, ever, be alone. You will have the all-powerful God on your side. He will teach you to overcome the sins that control you. He will fill your heart with peace, in both good and bad times. He will restore your joy when life steals it. In the good times, in the bad times, He will be there.
As you get to know Him, you will gain wisdom and find your heart being transformed (Romans 12:2). He wants to be known. He has revealed Himself in the Bible, so read it, listen to it being taught, and talk to Him about it (because that’s what prayer is – talking to God). Guard yourself against thinking that it’s all about what you do. Your good works won’t earn God’s favor any more than they earned your forgiveness. But they are tools to use in pursuing God. The focus is Jesus – letting Him express Himself in and through you (Galatians 2:20). The motivation is love, based on His love for you (1 John 4:17-19). Our good works flow out of this.
So, my friend, I’m wondering… Where are you? Do you know Jesus – really know Him in a way that affects your heart and life? He is holding out abundant life to you (John 10:10). Are you experiencing it? It’s offered to all and withheld from none who will come in faith. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:13.