For much of my life I felt like I was failing God. I thought if I desired or wanted something, God always wanted the opposite. And He was just waiting to snatch that dream or desire away from me. He was continually disappointed and mad at me, and nothing I did was pleasing to Him.
I felt like there was this standard to which I was expected to measure up and yet, it was humanly impossible to actually reach it. So being a christian was as much, if not more, about behaving well as it was about grace, and I was a complete failure at it because no matter what, I could never get it right.
That’s a miserable way to live. But it’s also a lie from the pit of hell.
God’s goal is not our misery.
Let’s say that louder for the people in the back.
God’s goal has never been our misery.
What our Heavenly Father wants is a personal, intimate, relationship with us through Jesus Christ.
That’s the goal.
Yes, He wants us to grow . . . to do good . . . to be sanctified . . . to change and transform . . . He wants all the things that are good and holy for us because He is a Father that knows what is best for His children. He knows how to protect us. That’s why, when we read Paul’s letters, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we see that he is never soft on sin, sin is so very destructive, but he’s also heavy, hugely heavy, on grace.
The starting and ending point of it all is a relationship with Jesus Christ . . . with the only Way to the Father, and ultimately to eternity in heaven, being the One who sacrificed His life because He knew I could never measure up to that impossible standard. None of us can.
I think we get afraid. Afraid that if we don’t come down hard on sin and are too free with grace that people will abuse that. And I’m sure there are those that will, willful disobedience has always and will always exist, but let’s not forget Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
“But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head- Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16
“Though I speak with tongues of mean and angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass of a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
Without love we are just loud and obnoxious.
Without a relationship, we are just trying to earn our way to heaven.
I don’t want behavior modification in my life. I don’t want to just “be good” because I’m scared of getting in trouble. I want the transformation that comes from knowing my Savior intimately. I want the change of heart and mind and soul that only comes from knowing I’m not good enough, I can’t measure up, and that’s the point. Because Jesus is far more than “good enough”, and He did and does “measure up”. That’s where true transformation begins. It’s not in good behavior. It’s in leaning into the God that loves you so much He only wants the absolute best for you, and He was willing to sacrifice His only son to give you that.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send HIs Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18
My lack of condemnation comes not from anything I do or say, but from everything Jesus did for me in giving His life. And that’s true for all of us. The only qualifier, if you will, is to accept Jesus and submit your life to the lordship of Christ. And then allow that relationship to grow. Pray, read the word, and ask God to send the Holy Spirit to help. That’s the beginning and the ongoing work of transformation, and it’s far better than being compelled to do right out of fear. It’s far better than behavior modification which doesn’t really work. We don’t have to try to act better. We just have to let Jesus in. God is not mad at me or you, and He finds pleasure in our relationship with Him.
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