I grew up with loving Christian parents who tried to instill in me the best that they knew about the Bible and Christ without being pushy or demanding. For this, I am very grateful! But some of the things I was taught were not necessarily what they had experienced, so much as it was what they too had been taught.
One of these lessons was about a God, that while Scripture said He was loving, was waiting to strike in anger when I made a mistake. This was the God I was afraid of! I still remember practicing how quick I could spit out “Father, forgive me!” in case I was randomly walking and heard trumpets sounding. In fact (like others), I once came home to an empty house and was sure the rapture had happened and I was left behind. I spent what seemed like hours (but was surely only minutes) frantically looking for any sign of life and pondering what I would do when the demons came to take me away, only to have mom walk in the back door from the garden with fresh picked okra and tomatoes in hand.
As I grew and had my own experiences with God, I came to realize this picture was not an accurate portrayal of Him at all. In fact, Peter wrote that “ is patient with you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed or perish, but wants everyone to repent.” That is definitely not a description of a God that is just waiting for me to mess up and stumble.
As I’ve studied and read and experienced Him in my every day, a better portrayal could be found in a story John wrote about in his gospel. In this story, a very close friend of Jesus, Lazarus, has gotten so sick that he passes away. Jesus returns to the hometown of Lazarus with the sole intent “to wake him, so that you may believe.” So Jesus knows He’s about to perform a crazy miracle that will astonish everyone around Him. Yet, upon his entrance to the city, when seeing Lazarus’ sisters mourning, John writes that Jesus weeps with them. In my mind, I’m thinking, “Crying? Really? You know you’re about to drop the power of God and blow everyone’s mind, but you’re going to weep beforehand? Why would you bother?”
As I study this, I realize that this is a beautiful picture of a God that isn’t vengeful or spiteful, but more of a God who has a passion and a heart for His people. Even though Jesus knew what was about to happen, that didn’t lessen the pain the sisters were feeling in the present. And although the sisters could rejoice in knowing that one day, at the Resurrection, they would see Lazarus again, the heartache and brokenness were that he wasn’t with them now. Jesus was all about comforting them in the now.
For me, this applies to my every day in a way that is almost unimaginable. Jesus knows my past mistakes, I know my past mistakes, and yet He says I’m forgiven because I’ve called on Him. But, maybe even greater, He not only knows my past mistakes, He knows the mistakes I’ll make tomorrow, a year from now, 5 years from now, even twenty plus years from now. And yet, knowing that I may betray Him tomorrow, He still loves and comforts me now!!!
I don’t know what your background is, or what you’re preacher, priest, minister or even parents did or did not teach you about God. But let me assure you of one thing… He loves you, unconditionally! He knows your past mistakes (and your future faults as well) and yet still wants to comfort you in the now. God is for you, not against you, and wants that none should perish, but that all should find everlasting life. This is who He is, this is the love that He has for us all. A heart of passion that wants that nobody should pass without experiencing a personal, loving relationship with Him.
(If you would ever like to find out more about a personal relationship with Christ (it’s easy), or have something that you need prayer about, or are just looking to chat, please message us through our facebook page (www.facebook.com/cfparis), and myself or one of our staff members would love the opportunity to get back with you!)
Click here to read more from Cory,
our positive thoughts contributor.