Sunday, November 13, 2011

the second half

I am convinced my life is one big cycle. Or more of a spiral, maybe. I don’t know, I mean I do feel like I learn a lot on a regular basis, and I do feel like it’s deeper and more relevant each time, but generally I tend to learn the same truths over and over again.
Because I am a small human.

Something that’s been continually coming up in my heart is the concept of being a daughter of God. How absurd a thought is that?! Seriously. I don’t even know how to be that. Servant? I can do that. Ambassador? I’m learning how. It seems that natural responses to God’s love are to serve Him and sacrifice myself,  or to represent Him and claim His message and do His work.
These seem very logical to me. Maybe that’s just because they’re my organic response to a love like His—to humbly sit before Him, knowing I am truly an unworthy recipient of His grace. Of course I feel like all I have to give is to be a servant.

But as J.D. said several times this morning, “Great, you’ve got the first half of the gospel.”

Like normal, I feel like every message/devotional/class I’ve heard lately has been pointed around the same topic: this time it’s God’s radical love for us. You know, the very thing I’ve identified that I’m really struggling to grasp right now.
He always does that, doesn’t He? Doesn’t even try to be sneaky…

Anyway, I’ve been clinging to Hebrews 4:16 lately, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” And the song “Come Boldly To the Throne of Grace” has been running through my head for a week or two now, because I’m trying really hard to comprehend what it could look like for me to come boldly to His boldy claim grace...

And I’ve been thinking about writing this blog entry for over a week now, but I’ve felt a little inconclusive (and busy) so I’ve put it off. But church this morning really nailed it down for me so I could at least take hold of this truth, even if I’m not quite to the point of actively walking in it.
Let me explain.

Of course, in the sermon J.D. referenced Hebrews 4:16 and he went on to say that groveling before God and confessing how unworthy you are is truly only half of the gospel! The other half is that we are now His children, and we are to come to Him boldly—like a child to a Father. We should come to Him so boldly that it shocks and offends people. (The image he used was actually hilarious: he told a story about having a meeting at home and having his 3-year-old daughter yell from the bathroom “Dad! Come wipe me!” Hilarious, but seriously makes the point!)

The way I approach God—like a little child to her parents—should shock people…and might I add that it should shock them out of their rigid, rule-loving, tradition-soaked, liturgical, impressive, distant view of God. No, rules, tradition, and liturgy are not a bad thing—not the point!! My God is not and will not be defined by my behavior, my unworthiness, my uncleanliness…you get the idea. God is who He is, and He is making me to be that. Who is God? How is He described? LOVE. (1 John 4:8) God is LOVE. He’s not law, He’s not a slave driver, and He’s not about to let me live as a servant thinking that’s all He’s got for me. No matter how convinced I am that I deserve it—He won’t let me be a servant.
In Luke 15, the Father of the prodigal son won’t even let his son request to be a servant. This is a son who has insulted him, made a mockery of him, disobeyed him, disrespected him, and then came home to ask to be allowed to be a servant. But his father interrupts him to start arranging a party. He clothes him and takes him in as if no wrong had happened, and reminds him that he is a son.

God hears and acknowledges my repentance, but it doesn’t stop there. He makes me a daughter—a co-heir with Christ. (Romans 8:16-17)

And knowing I would struggle to believe it, God gave me the words, His Word, to remind myself, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”