Love: Receiving His Gift of Righteousness

This is the fourth post for the March series To Love is to Live in Christ, a series reflecting on how we can choose to receive God’s Love, so that His actions of Love might flow out of us freely into the lives of those around us.

Linked up to Kelly Balarie‘s:

Kelly-Balarie-23

Through Adam and Eve, sin first entered the world. Eve accepted the fruit from the forbidden tree of knowledge, when the snake planted doubt into her mind. The snake tried to make her think that God was depriving her of something, that His Love for her was incomplete. This doubt took root and outed itself in sin: direct disobedience of God. Adam followed suit, envy taking root, suggesting that doubt had taken residence in him too and the fear of missing out on the “completeness” Eve had entered, compelling him into disobedience also. And the fear and shame that had taken root in both Adam and Eve, caused them to hide from God. And yet, knowing their transgressions, God did not turn away from them, but sought them out, calling them unto Himself and covering their shame in clothes.

From this time forward, we see God revealing humankind’s deep distrust and doubt. Both the New and Old Testament are filled with stories of imperfect, doubting men and women of faith, who struggle to believe that God is with them and has equipped them to step forward onto the path He has called them to. And yet, we do not see Him turn away in anger, but rather we see Him patiently turn toward them in loving kindness:

  • When Moses confesses his doubt at being called to speak to His people, reminding God of his speech impediment, God does not turn away in anger, but shows Moses that He is greater than any human weakness and places human support next to Moses to help him feel less alone.
  • When Gideon confesses his doubt and requests proof that God is with him,  God does not turn away in anger, but supplies the proof Gideon needs to step out in faith.
  • When Thomas was told of the resurrection of Jesus by others doubt and unbelief took hold of him also. What he had seen, trumping that which he had not. But here again, Jesus calls Thomas unto Himself and shows him and lets him feel the proof of His great redeeming love: the deep wounds inflicted upon His Body, restoring Thomas’ trust and helping him to take hold of the true gift of salvation.
  • When Peter disowns Jesus three times, Jesus does not turn away, but seeks Peter out, giving him an opportunity to face up to the truth of his past, but also the truth of his redemption. He asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him, the truth pressing into Peter until it aches within him. I like to see these three questions, as three new opportunities Jesus gives Peter to profess his Love, reminding Peter that each sin has been washed away by His blood. The questions both convict, shown by the pain Peter feels in responding, and lead to a confession of renewed faith. Jesus also shows Peter that his past transgressions do not determine his future calling. For instead of revoking Peter’s discipleship, Jesus calls him to “feed My Lambs” and “feed My sheep”.

Our God is thus a God who yearns to restore us unto Himself, to soothe and calm us with His Love, even when we turn our back on Him, as Peter did, or doubt His Love for us, as Gideon, Moses and Thomas did. He sees us shake in fear, hide in shame and turn to sin to numb away the fear, shame and grief and:

Isaiah  30: 18 (AMP)

Therefore the Lord waits [expectantly] and longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
[a]For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed (happy, fortunate) are all those who long for Him [since He will never fail them].

For, He yearns for us to take ahold of the Power and righteousness He has clothed us in as His children: to break the hold of fear, sin and unbelief in His Name. To stop worshipping humans who will keep hurting, disappointing and rejecting us and instead to step into His secure, comforting and freeing Love. For:

Colossians 2: 10 (NIV)

… in Christ [we] have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

All He expects from us, is that we come before Him as ourselves, as men and women in desperate need of His Love, Grace and Light-giving Word of Truth:

1 John 1: 5 – 10 (NIV)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

So, whenever we commit a sin, or feel fear, shame, or unbelief begin to clothe us, we must come before His Throne of Grace. We must confess that which holds us captive and allow Him to minister to our hearts: to open our eyes and hearts to see Him as He truly is: a patient, comforting and kind Heavenly Father, who yearns to restore us to His Love, Authority and Life, by breaking the hold of evil upon us. Sin, you see, should not cause us to buckle in fear, or hide in shame, but to turn to God in full confidence of our identity in Christ, clothed in His righteousness. For:

1 John 4: 18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Romans 8: 1 (ESV)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12: 4 – 16

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f]Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

So let’s allow every tiny sin, every thought of fear, distrust and unbelief to draw us closer to Him. Every time we lean toward comparing ourselves to others, feel ourselves shirk from taking ownership of our sins before others (no matter how small they are), struggle to let go of guilt and shame from already forgiven sins, find ourselves reminding our children of their past failures, struggle to forgive those who have hurt us…let us see it as an invitation to come sit on our Father’s lap: to say, “Here I am, Lord. I confess that I am struggling to love you, to trust you, to accept you, to believe you at Your Word. Forgive me, Lord for my transgressions, for turning away from you, when you long to draw near to me.” For we are children of a Mighty God, not destined to be shackled by fear, shame and doubt, but destined to live in the full power, authority and freedom of the Gospel.

 

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