(Note: This is a two-part post. If the first bit doesn’t pertain to you, the second half will…don’t miss it.)
When it comes to intimacy with God, it must be made clear that first we must have a relationship with Him.
Being merely “religious” doesn’t count: faithful church attendance…charitable acts…being nice.
These are all good things, but without ever coming face to face with our need for a Savior, they profit us nothing.
Sin – our inability to be perfect – is a very big problem when it comes to having a relationship with God. It was one we couldn’t fix. It took Jesus, who came to earth as a baby, lived a perfect life, and was put to death on the cross to bring reconciliation.
While on the cross He stated, “It is finished.”
Nothing more is needed on God’s part in order for us to commune with Him.
It didn’t end there, though. He rose from the grave, having overcome death. A few weeks later, He lifted off the planet and returned to heaven where He lives today.
The Bible calls Him the “prototokis” among many brethren…the “prototype,” or model of what is available to all who choose to follow Him. It is His life after death that gives us hope. He is, for those who have accepted His pardon, the true “Fountain of Youth.”
If there was another way for mankind to be reunited with God, then Jesus’ death was for nothing.
To those who have not made this important first step, very little that is written about “life with Christ” will makes sense. It sounds like a fairy tale, and those who “buy into it” will seem deluded to the extreme!
The Bible is like a true hologram. It was created by a unique Light. To the naked eye, it appears to be nothing more than a bit of gray film. Illuminated by any other light, it remains a bit of plastic – and nothing of the image can be seen.
However, when it is illuminated by the Light that created it, the Book comes to visible and understandable.
If the Bible is nothing but a dusty old book, full of ancient history, then ask God to shed His Light on it…to reveal what can’t be understood apart from His illumination.
Go ahead, take a risk and ask God to reveal Himself. If He truly does not exist, then nothing will come of it; Christians can be written off as a bunch of nuts, and time (of which there is a limited quantity if there really is no God) can be spent doing happier things than having frustrating arguments with the “deluded” about their beliefs!
For the child of God, sin is not an obstacle to our walk with the Lord, but…
…unconfessed sin is a major barrier.
When Jesus called out, “It is finished,” He used an accounting term. You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating. Translated to English, His words were:
“Paid In Full!”
It is this statement that makes all our efforts to “earn” the right to come close to God ludicrous. Jesus bought an “All Access Pass” for those who will accept it. We are free to come boldly to His throne for grace and mercy…and a whole lot more!
The purpose of the cross is to provide intimacy with God.
However, when we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us (Psalm 66:18). Think of it this way:
Good parents love their children. Affection flows freely, and there is peace between parent and child…
Until the the child disobeys or rebels.
This causes a rift in their relationship that remains so long as little Johnny refuses to “come clean.” He still wants the cuddles, the laughter, the uninhibited communion with his parents, but instead hides in his room.
Love does not cease, but closeness is affected.
Until he is willing to admit his fault, this break in their relationship will continue.
In the same way, we – God’s children – do the same thing. We judge (with an intent to condemn), we lie, cheat, steal, hate, or gossip.
Then we sense distance between our Father and us. We may have chosen to distance ourselves so He can’t “see” what we’re doing. (Really??!)
When we finally “come clean” – by which I mean agree with God that what we did was wrong – we are instantly forgiven, and the relationship is restored.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)
Note that great acts of charitable deeds are NOT demanded for penance. A simple, “I’m sorry I did ___________ (fill in the blank)” is sufficient. There is no punishment to endure…Jesus was punished on our behalf.
There may be consequences of the choice we made to sin…and we may have to live with those consequences for many years. The principle of “sowing and reaping” is not always suspended. I’ve lived with the unpleasant results of choices I made thirty years ago…and so have my (now) grown children. 😦
In some cases, like divorce and remarriage, God could not remove the consequences of our actions without wiping out our ex’s entire family, for they didn’t cease to exist the day the divorce was final (no matter how much we wish they had).
It wasn’t just the former spouse and our children that were affected, but another entire family as well. Divorce may be the end of one set of problems, but it’s the beginning of a whole new set!
There is no “undo” for this choice. This is discipline enough. (Note that this is training – not a beating!)
Simple confession is enough to clear the air between God and us.
Father, is there anything I need to confess in order for our relationship to grow?
Search me, O God, and know my heart
Try me and know my thoughts
See if there be any hurtful way in me
And lead me in the everlasting way.
We’re discussing obstacles to intimacy with God. It begins with: C’mon In…
Week two begins with: Where Image Is Everything