Should I be worried about not living a sin-free life? Does that conflict with the belief that Jesus washes away all sin? How can we believe the God who commands us not to sin isn't judging us? These are some of the questions I've had, which we will discuss in this second part. Please refer to part one of these messages if you want to see the previous conversation about coming to the door.
In the early years, I thought I understood the foundation of the gospel but didn't even realize I didn't understand the point of the blood. I celebrated Easter and took communion and other rituals representing the blood, not understanding the correlation between who Jesus is and how "good" I acted. I believed in Jesus, believed He forgives and washes away all sin. However, I still felt salvation essentially had to do with my merit. Missing this might be the most dangerous thing for a believer because belief in our identity as a child of God is predicated on the blood that bought our salvation. I realized that I could never atone for my sins. The blood had already done so for me. The only thing God was asking of me was to accept that Jesus died for me, become His child, and walk in that identity. The essence of being His child indeed means that He asks us to do and not do certain things. Any parent who loves their child has rules. God purposely gave us free will knowing we would sin. Rather than expecting us to live a spotless life, He expects you and I to come to him with our troubles, desires, and habits and surrender ourselves.
Thinking back to your youth, perhaps you remember coming home late or coming back from somewhere you shouldn't have been. At the time, maybe friends and peers supported everything you did. When you return home, reality hits, and the negative feelings begin to bubble up. You know that you must leave specific ways of talking and acting behind when you go home. That parent figure might leave the light on or keep the door unlocked for you, but you knew once you entered the house, you lived by their set of rules. Just like then, it's easy to feel resentful towards the ones that keep you from having a "fun time"; those who set boundaries for you. One day we wake up older, a little wiser, and maybe with our children, and we can't believe we did and said some of the things we did as kids. Moreso, we understand now why our parents had the rules they did. You realize over time that though they set boundaries, they loved you most, and judged you least, even when they seemed angry or disappointed. The people who cheered you on when you were "having a good time" were never concerned about your well-being. And whose fault was it? You and your friends did not know you were the blind leading the blind. That's ok. Because that parent figure knew what you should not do, but they knew you would do it anyway, and they knew your friends were going through the same things. The wisdom our older family members offer us becomes precious gold. We realize they've gone through it and love us enough to try to keep us from making the same mistakes. It is like this with God, several times over. He has more wisdom and love for us than anyone in our lives. Imagine how much more important it is to Him that we access the things that will bring us success and that we ward off the devil's snares.
It is essential to understand that God convicts us out of love and not condemnation or the desire to control us. We were given free autonomy for a reason. Not to test us, but because God did not wish to make robots. As mentioned in part one, God gives us the desires we have for a reason, and believe it or not, the worst of us still comes from a place that Jesus Himself has dealt with and understands. No matter how complicated your vices, habits, or situation, like our parent figures, the things God asks of us come from a place of understanding. Just like there was a reason our parents told us to stay away from certain areas and things, God tells us that the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Like a parent, His motivation for telling you not to do certain things is because of your peace, joy, and safety. Just like the devil and the wickedness of this world is deliberate and consistent, God asks us to be intentional and consistent about avoiding sinful and harmful ways of this world. Like a parent, God is not ignorant about everything we have done before we tell Him. He wants us to be honest, inviting Him into our situations. Aren't we blessed to have someone who loves us enough to tell us how to live our best life? More so, because He loves us unconditionally and is always willing to clean the slate, all we must do is ask. Obedience sounds simple, but we know it doesn't always feel that way.
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
We might feel like we are so far from God that when we are ready to talk to Him, He's forgotten or given up on us. God's word assures us that this could never happen. When you feel furthest from Him, it might feel as if He's silent or angry. In reality, God is not quiet, even if you cannot hear Him. His ways are not to enslave you. He desires your faith in who He is, which is difficult for two reasons.
First, we easily mistake silence for distance or anger. It is easy to become frustrated with the signs you feel around you. Was that God speaking? Every time I think He's talking I feel like I'm being paranoid or convicted. This leads to the second reason why coming to the door is difficult. You must release the thing in your hand to pick up another thing. That is, giving up your vices, getting your life together, or somehow being someone other than yourself. It is vital to understand that God asks us to come as we are. However, this is about surrender. It is having faith enough to ask for help, to dare to be brave enough to let others love you with all the dirt, diseases, and bruises you've gotten along your journey. The ones who love you don't need perfection, but they need your cooperation. It is the same with God. Your trauma, mistakes, and "bad days" are not to be discarded to come to the door, but you can't go through the door if you don't show the master of the house what is in your luggage. Revealing all to God is not meant to condemn and judge you, for He always knew what you were hiding from Him, but as an act of faith, God wants all of you.
If you're reading this today, I ask you, don't miss out on living in your present because you feel you aren't perfect. Let us take a chance and be who we are, issues and all, and let in the ones who are brave enough to love us. Let us walk by faith believing that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If you accept Him into your heart, no sin, no pain, no guilt, no attempts of the devil, no amount of self-sabotaging or hate can depreciate your worth in the eyes of your father. If any part of you longs for peace and rest in the arms of the one who truly knows and loves you, I dare you to come to Him as you are. I promise you will find that the door had been left open for you all this time.