“Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. “ – Hebrews 11:16
Do you ever have days when you think there’s no way that God is ever going to accept you, that you can never be the man or woman He expects you to be? Of course, you do; we all do. When we’re brutally honest with ourselves we realize it’s true. But it’s also a lie, and a big one, because we measure ourselves against a standard that God never sets.
Part of the problem is our misunderstanding of the Bible. We think of it as a handbook for living that lays down the do’s and dont’s of God’s rules for our being acceptable to him. So we get hung up on THE RULES, fearing that somewhere down the line we’re going to mess up and God’s going to say, “gotcha”.
But the real message of the Bible is God telling us ‘this is who I am’. It’s about him and not so much about us. He already knows everything about us, but he wants us to know more about him. It’s about the relationship. God wants to have an intimate relationship with us, but how can we enjoy that kind of relationship with someone we don’t know? And so he sent us a love letter.
I’m also encouraged that the portrait of those we consider ‘superstars of faith’ are painted in all their ugly, warty glory. These aren’t gold-plated perfect people who set a standard I could never hope to reach. They are dysfunctional, flawed individuals, every bit as messed up as I am. What I learn over and over is what made them acceptable to God was their faith and trust. They trusted God with what we sometimes call ‘blind faith’. But it was anything but blind because they knew Who it was that they were trusting. As a result, God grew them into the people they needed to be for him to accomplish his plans.
We think we have to clean ourselves up before we can come to God. But we also realize that we are incapable of fixing ourselves, and it causes us to despair. It usually ends with us falling into one of two ways of thinking. Either we convince ourselves that God could never save someone as messed up as we are, or we decide that God is so loving that he’ll just take us the way we are. The first produces hopelessness, the second delusion.
Romans 5:6,8 dispels the notion of ‘not good enough’. Paul acknowledges we cannot save ourselves but God made provision for that. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly… But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God knew we can’t do it on our own and had the solution in place before the problem even arose. Yes, my life is a mess; yes, I’ve rebelled against God. I have been his enemy so how can I become his friend? God’s already taken care of it.
But God also loves us enough to not let us continue living broken messed-up lives. He tells us to “be holy, for I am holy”. In other words, he wants us to reflect His image. So we despair once again, thinking it’s something I have to do on my own and knowing there’s no way it can be done. We also view it as a one-time thing rather than a process of growth and maturing. So we settle into thinking, “well, that’s just the way I am, and God will just love me anyway.” God has set a feast before us, and we settle for the crumbs on the floor.
We need to understand that God never gives us a command without equipping us to be able to carry it out. We see it as impossible and so God didn’t really mean it that way. We’re so full of the busted pieces of our lives that God has no room to fill us with his spirit and power. Until we empty ourselves God can’t give us anything. But when we hand him the pieces, he will put them back together and then fill us to overflowing with himself.
So we need to stop our preconceived ideas about ‘good enough’ Christianity and do-it-yourself religion. It can only produce despair or self-righteousness. If you want to know what God desires for you and from you, dig deeply into Scripture. Get to know God on a deep, intimate level. Let him become your greatest desire and then watch what he will do with you.