Love & Fear, Doubt & God’s Steadfastness

It’s amazing how busy life can get and how we begin to allow voices and others’ priorities to squeeze our focus away from God. One day you wake up and begin to think, “When was the last time I spent focused time just being with and listening to the Lord?“ Relationships take time and are grown through spending time with others and so we begin to take on guilt and shame about “neglecting” time with the Lord.  I want to encourage you today with a biblical promise God gives to His children: He will never leave us or forsake us.  In fact, Jesus, in the book of John, says to his disciples that when we believe in him, he is IN us and we are IN him just as he is IN the Father.  And we know this unity is possible via the Holy Spirit. God is with you…He is always with you…He never has left you and He never will.  

Then why are there times I feel so far from God?  It’s a great question. It’s a reasonable question. I love this quote I’ll to share with you and I pray it blesses your spirit.  The context: Andrew Farley, in his book The Naked Gospel, is writing about how we as believers say we are under New grace but live strapped to Old Testament Law that demands performance.  He writes…

“Having raised my antennae toward the Christian world around me, I intercepted the subtle message that there are requirements to remain in God’s favor. This collection of “Thou shalts”—read your Bible, share your faith, participate in a lot of “church”—was a measuring stick by which I determined my worth and standing. These criteria served as a concrete way of determining whether or not I was in right relationship with God. I had already accepted the work of Christ as the means to heaven. But it was my approach to daily living that was beating me up…What does the writer of Hebrews say? The Old is “weak and useless” in its attempts to perfect us. Today, we have a better option—the New. This new system introduced through the death of Jesus Christ actually works. It places us in perfect standing even though we don’t perform perfectly. Only through the New can we genuinely draw near to God. When I’m feeling distant from God, it’s because I’ve measured myself and have come up short. This leads me to believe that God must be measuring me by this same standard. So I end up with the false conclusion that he’s distant from me. Under this logic, how would I get close again? Obviously, the only option would be to achieve in a way that I hadn’t achieved previously. But the Scriptures are clear: there’s only one way to get close to God—through the New Covenant. Any other way is a counterfeit that is invariably rooted in ill-conceived parallels with human relationships and driven by moment-to-moment feelings.”

Did you know that when God looks at you He is never disappointed in you?  Did you know that He doesn’t love you based on your “performance”?  God sees every part of you. God sees how busy you are. God sees your stress, your strain, your failings, your desires, you wins, your losses, the deepest parts of you and GOD LOVES YOU!  I love what Farley wrote because it so clearly explains years and years of how I was feeling — that God was measuring me according to my own standards which I wasn’t meeting at all and so He ‘stayed away’ from me until I could do better.  What a total and complete LIE!  It makes no sense at all yet it can consume us and cause us to become obsessed (and frustrated/exhausted) with our performance. 
1 John 4:15-19 says this,

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

Have you ever feared that God would leave you? It’s because you don’t truly believe in His love for you. You are still believing the lies that His love is based on your performance and you will either be rewarded by your achievements or punished because of your failures. We have forgotten the basic truth of the gospel: that while we were God’s enemies, while we were failing spectacularly, God loved us and saved us. When we come to know the love of God we find our life is in Him and His life is in us. We don’t need to measure up. We don’t need to perform. We don’t need to be perfect. We don’t need to do anything but live FROM Christ.  I recently heard that from someone: Jesus doesn’t need you to live FOR him…he wants you to live FROM him.  “I [Jesus] am the Vine and you are the branches” takes on such a rich meaning when we live FROM Jesus. 

So, today, take heart, be encouraged.  God’s love is steadfast and sure. Speak with God throughout your day and live from His strength and love…because really, that’s all we are told to do…and that’s all we can do. And now…you can exhale and enjoy your day living from Jesus and living in his love.