I have found when I am most in touch with how much God loves me, it is then that I am most likely to live the fullest, richest, most obedient and joy-filled life. This may sound simple – but how many of us have a twisted view of how life is supposed to go? Namely, we live as if it’s the other way around: if we obey God, then he’ll love us and we’ll be happy.
The religion of Christianity, and especially modern American evangelicalism, has spent much of its energy on behavior modification and outward fruits while largely ignoring the deep inner life. How much time do you spend in prayer, scripture reading and meditation every day? This is not a condemnation – just a gut check for us. We tend to approach religion – and by extension our relationship with God through religion – as a tool to live a good life when in fact, it’s not adherence to some religion that God wants at all. He wants our whole hearts.
Many churches and church leaders have shuddered at this approach and some of you may read it even now and say, “this seems like a dangerous recipe to let people do whatever they want and disobey scripture.” But here’s the reality I’ve experienced personally and seen powerfully in the real lives of people: we cannot over-emphasize the love, mercy and grace of God. It is too powerful to be overwhelmed by the small and broken reality of sin. When we lean fully into God’s love and grace – when we meditate on it and grasp it more and more – it never becomes a license to sin. It always leads us to deeper and deeper holiness.
So I pray for you, and for me, this most beautiful of prayers from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter 3, and ask God that it may be so in our lives today:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Grace and Peace,