31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Romans 8:31-34
I often wonder why so many Christians struggle in their Christian walk. Why they feel guilty, ashamed and inadequate when they read the Bible? I believe part of the answer can be found in the fact that many Christians, although well intentioned, have formed a type of belief system that integrates the Old Testament law and the New Testament Covenant via Jesus death and resurrection. By doing so they maintain there are requirements to remain in God’s favor.
Part of me gets this train of thought. In fact I lived this way for more years than I would like to admit. It is a desperate, empty way to live. Why, because no one can be “on” all the time. It is impossible to do, say and behave in a right manner all the time. In essence it is impossible to live a mistake free life. Do we strive for perfection, yes; do we strive for excellence, yes; do we always succeed, unfortunately no.
In the United States, we live in a performance based society. In the US the more successfully a person is; the more “value points” that person is given. I do not in any way want to disrespect people who have experienced great accomplishments. People who have sacrifice for their sport, art form, etc. But I want to be clear, in the spiritual realm there is no better than, there is no favorite. There is only unconditional love.
We, as humans often look at God through human eyes; assigning Him human feelings and emotions. Since we are human and this is all we know, it is only normal we would do this. However, God is not human, and more importantly we are not God.
Many perceive God measures mankind in the same manner we do. You attend church regularly you earn 5 points. You chose not to go to Sunday school you lose a point. You get a speeding ticket you lose 4 more points, but you participated in the church outreach so you earned 5 points. But you lost your temper so you subtract 2 points. I still have 3 points. Whew, as long as I am in the black I am okay.
God has one measuring stick with only one line on it. God’s standard is Jesus Christ. The standard for God is have we as humans accepted His Son Jesus Christ and his substitutionary work on the cross for us. To prove this point let me ask you a question. Were you saved by a) observing the law and keeping a certain set of rules or b) by believing what you heard about Jesus Christ? Secondly, do expect you will become more like Christ throughout your life a) by human effort or b) by the leading of the Holy Spirit?
The answers to both questions are B. Why is the answer B, primarily because if the answer was A there would have been no need for Jesus Christ to die on the cross. If salvation could be achieved without His death, then His death was pointless.
I believe so many of us have difficulty accepting this because unconditional love is very foreign to us. The majority of humans are used to love being attached, to a greater or lesser degree, to performance. But God says here is my Grace and no performance is needed. The beauty of this is unconditional love and grace allows us to leave human effort behind. It allows us be ourselves. In being ourselves, with no hidden agenda, no secrets, no shame, we are more open to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
As hard as it is to accept and believe, the bottom line is God loves each and every one of us relentlessly, compassionately and inexhaustibly. There is absolutely nothing we can do that will cause God to love us more and conversely there is nothing we can do to cause God to love us less. Nothing.