In the time leading up to the Christmas Holiday (and the days following) I have found myself thinking a lot about what is happening in our nation – and, about God. Regarding God, I was thinking about His love for us; and, what it means to us in this day and age.
The birth of Jesus was not the start of “God’s Great Plan” for mankind. Oh, no. God was thinking about it way before that. In fact, He was thinking about it before He started the Creation process – before time and the universe. (Current scientific thinking would put that at some point about 13.7 billion years ago.)
What do we know about God? Actually, quite a lot. Just for starters, we know that He has boundless love; we know He hates and cannot be in the presence of sin; and, we know that God is just. These three traits are vital to mankind.
Knowing this about God, it seems (to me) that God’s love must “trump” everything else. Remember, God can look into time at any point – with perfect clarity and understanding. Therefore, He knew before He even began creation that Adam and Eve, with their gift of free will, would choose to trust Satan over Him. (He even knew exactly what you and I would (and will) do; and the tears that would be shed over our actions.) He knew how sinful and evil the world would become – the centuries of pain that would be endured – not just by man, but also, by God; because of His great love for us – His special creation. And yes, even then He knew the ultimate price He would pay to redeem all that was broken, stained, scarred and ruined by sin.
Yet knowing all that, God created Adam and Eve. The only part of creation patterned after Himself. The part that He, personally, breathed life into. To Him, we were worth it. God went “all in” for us.
Thus, the earliest chapter of God’s Great Plan (of which the Christmas story is only one part) was written at Creation.
God went all in, and has stayed all in. Yes, God has, from time to time, felt regret for creating Man. (What does that say about our ability to bring pain and sorrow to our creator. And, how does that make you feel?) But, no matter how evil, how proud, how ungrateful, how _______ (fill in your own words) we have become, God has stood with us, and for us.
His ultimate sacrifice was sending His Son to earth (the first time). Imagine Jesus getting up from his seat at the right hand of God and walking away from that great throne-room knowing exactly what He would endure to redeem the sins of mankind. Yet, Jesus chose to enter a single cell inside a virgin teenaged girl, living in Nazareth, on planet earth. Jesus was all in, for us.
Think, now, about all the people between Adam and Jesus who went all in… for God; and by so doing, went all in for God’s great plan for you and me.
Consider Noah. God said, “Noah, I want you to make a BIG boat….” There is no record that Noah asked a single question of God. We are simply told, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” (Gen 6: 22) Noah went, all in. And, as a result mankind got a second chance. And, the rainbow to remind us of it. (Does it remind you of God’s great love?)
The story of Abram/Abraham tells us of another man who went all in for God. He exhibited great faith. He stumbled from time to time, yet God used Him to found the Jewish nation – and to begin making Himself known to all people. You can read all of Abram’s/Abraham’s story starting in Genesis 12 and continuing through Genesis 25:8.
David. Much is written about David. You can pick-up his story in 1Samuel 16. David loved God intensely. (He wrote many of the Psalms as praises to God.) David was a flawed hero. But, when He screwed-up, he confessed his sin and genuinely repented. And because God loved David He never held back His forgiveness. But, neither did He hold back the consequences of David’s sin. David keyed in on the joy of forgiveness and continued to praise God. David was certainly all in for God. (And, He is a many times great-grandfather of Jesus).
Mary, was a teenager. A virgin, betrothed to Joseph, a man she evidently loved. He had a good trade, the plans were made, and her future was looking very good. Then an Angel showed up and delivered news that would sully her reputation, likely cause Joseph to dismiss her, and in general, forever destroy her future. Yet, her response to the Angel was, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever He wants. May everything you have said come true.” (Luke 1:38). Mary knew her God, trusted her God, and went all in.
Through out the history recorded in the Bible there is example after example of people – flawed people – going all in for God.
It will soon be 2013. We find ourselves in a society and culture that is full of secularism and hypocrisy. There are great forces trying to marginalize Christianity within our society. Yet God is still on His throne; and, He is still, all in. But where are we, the “Christians” of this age?
Tragically, the majority of those calling themselves Christian are riding the fence between Heaven and earth. By that I mean, they “claim” Christianity while they live something quite different. They have bought into the values of our culture.
One of the three characteristics of God, that I mentioned earlier, is that God is just. Somehow, I don’t think playing both sides of the fence is going to satisfy God. Among other things, one should consider that we do not live in a vacuum. Virtually everyone we interact with throughout each day, may well be evaluating what it means to be a Christian… by our words, and more importantly, our actions. If we, through what we say and do, are reinforcing and spreading Satan’s agenda…. Well, think bad… VERY BAD outcome.
OK. I hear you. It is difficult to live a biblical worldview.* But, were we not warned? (John 15:18-19 and 16:33). God also tells us He will never demand more of us that we can bear. (1Cor 10:13) And further, that He will always be with us in our trials and tribulations. (John 16:33). I think excuses will not be accepted!
Oh yes, we will stumble. We are humans living in a fallen world, where Satan still has a great deal of power. None of us is perfect. But, we cannot, must not, use that as an excuse to take the easy way out of difficult situations. God is constantly with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. That, by itself, should be a huge help (one way or another) in keeping us on track. Not one of the people noted above was perfect. The only thing they had in common (that I can see) is that they all loved God and God loved them. Just as He loves us. What may be the difference between them and us, however, is this: They trusted God. They were committed to God. They were all in; and, they stood their ground. When they sinned, they repented,** and asked for forgiveness. They recognized that their sin would have consequences and they accepted them – knowing that God was with them.
In our current society and culture it is difficult to live a moral life. Never-the-less, we must do our absolute best. We must look to God and the examples of those He used so might-ally. I find it easier if I keep my eyes off the “wind and waves” and on Jesus.***
* A person with a biblical worldview believes that God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today. Satan is real and has a great deal of power on earth, but will ultimately be destroyed. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and lived a sinless life. Salvation is a gift from God available to all who seek it through Jesus. Salvation cannot be earned. Christians have a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people. The Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Unchanging moral truth exists, and such moral truth is defined by the Bible.
** Repent: to be sorry, to change heart and behavior, and to make a moral u-turn… from sin to God).
*** See my post of 11/20/12, Where Is Your Focus