“And what about love?” Our pastor was going through the fruits of the Spirit. “Do we really love people the way Jesus does? We love our friends, our family, sure. But what about our enemies? What about the person who annoys us? What about a dirty beggar? Hey, think about it. Lice could be a real problem you know. It’s not that easy getting it out of your hair, having to buy special shampoo, to comb it out with those little combs…” Everyone was squirming in their seats, imagining the little creatures running through their hair and feeling very uneasy with the challenge of loving the unlovable.
He was trying to make a point. And the next thing he said hit it home but at the same time came as an immense wave of relief: “It’s not hard to love like Jesus did. It is impossible to love like He did!” But then he added “…without the Holy Spirit.” I breathed out a “Thank you Jesus!”
Living up to God’s standards is not hard. It is impossible! And yet that is exactly what God wants for us. But why would a loving God expect the impossible of imperfect people? Very simply: for us to realize how much we really need Him. To invite us through His Son into a living loving relationship of complete dependence on Him.
Sometimes we have this strange reaction to our own sin or failure. Shock and horror. Shame. How could I have done that?! Sometimes we even find it hard to forgive ourselves because we feel like we “should have known better” or “should have been able to hold it together” I think it comes down to a matter of pride actually; We like to think that, in a way, we are somehow “better” than we actually are.
God is not fooled. He knows “how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust” (Ps 103:14) but in knowing, He has a deep compassion on us, as a loving Father would (Ps 103:13) He look us full in our (dirty little) faces and whispers “I love you”. He turns His face towards our miserable cry that “we are not worthy” and says: “I know. That’s why I made a Way for you”
When we were at our worst, He sent Jesus to die for us and take all our sins upon Himself. He did not do this so that in Him we can find the “5 steps to a better me”. He did this because we were dead in our sins and He wanted to make us alive. Because without Jesus it would be impossible to know Him, and He desperately wanted us to. Because without Him we were doomed to a life of sin, fear, destruction and ultimately hell – an eternity without Him, and He wanted love, joy, peace and an eternal love relationship for us.
We should not be shocked at our own state. God isn’t. The sooner we can embrace that we are sinful beings and the “good news” that “Without God I am incapable of anything good”, the sooner we will be able to draw near to Him, repent of doing things our own way and embrace His love, compassion and forgiveness.
“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. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 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. 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. ” – Heb 4:13-16
Will you lay down your pride today and see yourself as you really? Dust. It’s only through God’s hands and His breath that you could be anything else. And that, my friend, if you can truly embrace it, is REALLY Good News!
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Cor 12:9-10