Updated: Aug 23
A recent message at church was about people's perceptions of God. Some see Him as an old man with a white beard pointing his finger scolding us. Another view is an angry distant God who has one hand in a fist and the other pointing us to judgment. An extension of this view is God's waiting to pounce on us for all of our mistakes, or coming after us with a big wooden spoon. Hearing these descriptions certainly isn't a foreign concept for me as I know many who keep God at a distance because He doesn't seem so friendly or approachable. However, I have a completely different view of God. I see God through the lens of the words, actions and emotions of Jesus. I see a God who loves His creation so much that He was willing to give His very life so that we could have a relationship with Him.
God is perfect and He created a perfect world. When sin entered the world through an act of his first childrens' act of disobedience, we stepped away from a perfect relationship with Him. The only way for us imperfect people to restore fellowship with a perfect God was for Him to make a way. We can't do enough good works in this world to reach His standards of perfection. So, Jesus (i.e., God made flesh and blood) came to earth to show His love and compassion for His creation. Sin can't be undone--sin created a separation between God and us. The only way to restore fellowship was for Jesus to create a bridge to cross the gap between us and God. He came to earth to make a way for us to return to a perfect relationship with our creator. Because God is a just God, sin has to be punished. However, He still wants a relationship with each one of us. In order for our sins to be cancelled out, the punishment had to be delivered.
God has given each of His children the ability to choose to receive His love or to reject it and go their own way. Jesus is the solution to our sin problem. When He chose to be crucified, He said, "God loves you so much that my death will serve as payment for your sins. There is nothing further needed from you but to believe and receive this free gift of love and sacrifice." When you understand that Jesus died to remove the separation between you and God, you no longer have to fear God.
What kind of God comes down to our level to suffer pain, humiliation, torture and an unjust death to prove His love for His creation? I say, a loving, selfless God. When we receive the gift of a relationship with God through Jesus' death and resurrection, we no longer need to fear God. Why? because Jesus paid our bill in full. You don't owe a thing for every mistake you've ever made or will ever make. Crazy, isn't it? On so many levels it doesn't make sense. "Surely I have to do something to make things right." Yes, and that something is believe Jesus and receive the free gift of freedom from judgment, fear and shame.
So what is your response to this free gift? Mine is eternal gratitude, peace, joy and a desire to show my appreciation by a life well-lived. Does it make me perfect? Not by a long shot, and not in the world's eyes. But to God, He looks at me through the perfection of Jesus' sacrifice for me. He looks at me as if I've never sinned. Why? Because my sins were paid in full by Jesus and I believe He did it for me. Each person has to decide for themselves.
Even though I've been a believer for as long as I can remember it doesn't mean that I haven't disappointed myself and others along the way. I've fallen short of God's standards many times. On some days I've wanted to hide from God out of my own shame and embarrassment. So when my pastor said to everyone in the room, "God's not mad at you," it struck a chord deep inside me. Tears welled up in my eyes and spilled onto my cheeks. I became aware that while I believe He loves me there has been a deeper part of me still struggling with what I fear to be His frustration, disappointment and disapproval.
When I heard that God is not mad at me, I was reminded once again that His love for me is not conditional upon my actions. He sees me through the filter of Jesus' shed blood. I am forgiven. I am loved. I am secure. Forever.
How about you? Have you received the free gift of forgiveness and a forever relationship with God, your Creator? His arms of love are wide open to you. All that is required is for you to say is, "Yes, I believe. Jesus is enough. I am forgiven. I am set free from fear, sin, and death. Forever. It is finished." What a joy to know that God is not mad at you. Freely you have received, now freely give.