In the past, my logical, realistic, fallen self approached my relationship with the Lord as a list of do’s and don’t’s. I knew that it was wrong to make this Christian life a check list, that there was no relationship in that, but I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I had turned God’s love conditional. I had made Him in man’s image, believing that if I were to misstep in the slightest bit, He would just give up on me.
I remember as a teenager being told by Sunday School teachers, Bible teachers, and family what to do and not to do – don’t go see R rated movies, do have a 15 minute quiet time every morning, don’t read your Bible at night – you’ll forget what you read by morning, don’t listen to secular music, do come to church every time the doors are open. I remember trying so hard to keep up with this list to “gain the approval of God” and look like a good Christian, that it wasn’t even fun. There was no passion, no joy, there was no love for the Lord. It was simply a religion. I had come to believe that Jesus wouldn’t love me if I didn’t do these things. I’m sure that my teachers and parents never said that, but that is how the enemy turned it in my mind.
And as I’ve grown and learned and lived this Christian life, I am having to re-learn that which was ingrained. No matter what I know about the Lord, I sometimes find myself going back to the mindset that His love is conditional. I don’t remember realizing as a child just how gracious the Lord is, or just how much freedom I have in Christ. Not to say that it is in any way okay to abuse that grace and freedom and live however I want, but I don’t feel like the church today speaks to just how He reacts when we do abuse His grace. Side note: I think it may be because they worry that if they do speak to freedom in Christ, Christians will take their freedom to an extreme and live as if there are no consequences. Well, sorry to say it, but its too late for that. *cough emerging church cough*
God is not human. His love is in no way conditional or circumstantial. He is Love.
When I choose the wrong path for my life, whether a big mistake or a small, He does not give up on me. He does not get angry and leave me there to work it out on my own. He loves me, and He walks beside me down that path, through the consequences. He doesn’t remove the consequences – where would the lesson be in that? But He loves me and graciously guides me back to where He intended me to be.
My God is a Redeemer. He redeems me daily. He redeems my past, He redeems my mistakes even in this moment. He does not leave me to deal with my consequences alone. He picks me up, dusts me off, and walks with me in the right direction, all the while whispering His love and faithfulness over me.
There are not enough boxes to check to gain His approval. He chose us before the creation of the Universe. He willingly chose to pour His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness over us. We are ugly, prideful, and broken failures, yet through the death of His own Son, He still chose us.
“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You.” Psalm 51:12