Am I ‘in’ yet, Lord?
Have I done enough to make up for my years of wayward living?
After a decade of blatantly rejecting God and His ways, I returned to church intent on earning back God’s favor. I diligently followed what I perceived were the rules of Christian living. I attended church, taught Sunday school, volunteered on committees, joined a Bible study, and cooked meals for families. I did all the things. But the question lingered…
How much is enough? Can you forgive me yet?
God answered me through the Apostle Paul:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
God offered forgiveness much quicker than I accepted it. Over time I believed He loved me in spite of my rebellious past. He always forgave my ugly sins. I was always ‘in,’ I just had to receive it.
Have you ever questioned whether you’re good enough for God?
Believing He could love me ‘as is’ came through Bible study which helped me piece together God’s one consistent ongoing redemption story. God wants us back! I discovered the scripture’s Truth, capital T. And if it’s True then God’s promises are True and can be trusted.
My relationship with God grew along the way, long before I accepted His love. While studying, I got to know God through His Word and prayed with some regularity. As in any growing friendship, I learned to trust Him.
I don’t cook many meals these days and I graduated from teaching Sunday school. I’m still living a good Christian life but everything is different. My intention isn’t centered on me – to earn God’s love, feel good about myself, or maintain a reputation. My life is about God, to extend His love, represent Him well, and bring Him glory.
My good other-centered Christian life shifted to be God-centered. I don’t want to become like the Pharisees who followed God’s Law but lost God’s good intentions. My purpose is to love others as God loves me. And loving God, self and neighbor makes much more sense now.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
Lent is often a time of self examination – discovering how we fall short and realigning ourselves with God’s way. Self-examination is a good practice. God calls us to confession and repentance. It’s useful for learning from our mistakes.
But fixing ourselves by striving to be a good Christian won’t increase God’s love and forgiveness. More likely we’ll burn out. We can’t fix ourselves. Only the Holy Spirit can transform us to be more like Jesus.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)
Let’s start with relationship. Let’s hang out with Jesus. Don’t we adopt the values and characteristics of our friend group? Let’s not check the ‘daily prayer’ box but consider our prayer time coffee with a friend.
- What if we admire God’s greatness and thank Him for inviting us to share life over coffee? After all, He has lots of friends!
- What if we observe the love expressed in the life of Jesus, express our desire to be more like Him, and ask for His help?
- What if we appreciate the magnitude of what the Creator of the Universe has done for us and confess that we need this generous grace every day?
Let’s soak in His love and believe Him when He says:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
I will build you up again,
and you, [insert your name], will be rebuilt.
Again you will take up your timbrels
and go out to dance with the joyful.”
Jeremiah 31:3-4 (NIV)
There are so many related posts so dig in. I’ve wondered whether I’m ‘in’ since I was a child. Bible study has taught me so much. I’ve written about the one story it tells that actually occurred and fulfilled prophesies written 700 years earlier. In addition, I learned about how the Holy Spirit guided humans in writing and compiling the Bible.
#SeedsofScripture #Lentenseason #humbleheart #humility #repentance #40days #godsunconditionallove