Continuing with the thought I was on when I closed my last blog – I have found an amazing freedom in learning the difference between trying to please God, and resting in his total love for me. Coming to understand that he is completely pleased with me, not because of what I do or don’t do, but because of what he already did, is radically life-changing. I am totally accepted, unconditionally loved, fully wanted, absolutely pleasing. When God looks at me he doesn’t see my faults, my mistakes, my deliberate sins, my ugly behaviors. He sees the righteousness of Jesus, and there is nothing I can do that is bad enough or strong enough or ugly enough to affect the righteousness of Jesus.
Does that mean that I should just go do whatever I please? As the apostle Paul said to the same question, “May it never be!” Knowing how completely loved, accepted, wanted, pleasing, cherished, adored (I could go on and on) I am by the Mighty, Holy God – Maker of Heaven and Earth – makes me want nothing more than to please him and glorify him. But out of a heart of love, not out of a feeling of needing to earn his approval or avoid his disapproval, or his anger.
There is something deeply healing that happens when I can say to myself, “It would be wonderful if this person liked me”, or “if that person approved of my efforts – BUT – I am totally, completely and absolutely wanted, loved and accepted by God, no matter what. It can hurt if someone rejects me, but it doesn’t have to send me into a bunch of negative self-talk and defensiveness. It doesn’t have to define my self-worth.”
By the way, this is not stuff I figured out all by myself. This is from The Search For Significance that I was recommending a few posts back. Buy it. Borrow it. Read it.
However, God has been making scriptures come alive to me lately so that they feel like notes written this morning and slid under my door. Verses I have read literally dozens if not hundreds of times suddenly mean something immediate and practical and personal. (If you don’t enjoy reading the Bible, I recommend trying The Message. So conversational and current.)
Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?
Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?
The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.
But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God.
Galatians 3:2-3, 5, 11, 25 MSG