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God to man:
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)
Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 GW)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
Man to God:
They have turned against the Lord and can’t be trusted. They have refused his teaching and have said to his messengers and prophets: Don’t tell us what God has shown you and don’t preach the truth. Just say what we want to hear, even if it’s false. Stop telling us what God has said! We don’t want to hear any more about the holy God of Israel. (Isaiah 30:9-11 CEV)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NKJV)
“What then should I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:22 BSB)
GOD AND MAN — TALK ABOUT AN ASYMMETRIC RELATIONSHIP!
God gives, and man, well, sometimes man is gracious enough to take … but not always. In fact, the Bible notes that most men and women will not take God’s gifts, but prefer to go their own way.
Yet, still God gives.
Man’s reluctance to take, or accept, God’s gifts is based on man’s pride. Allowing mankind, both men and women, the gift of free choice was an amazing risk our Creator was willing to take, especially since He foreknew what we would do with that power — we would reject Him and His plan for our lives.
Yet God so loved us that He gave us a safety line, one that cost Him dearly — the pain and suffering of His only Son, not just the physical pain associated with the flogging and crucifixion, but more so the emotional pain associated with enduring God’s wrath.
Let’s stop for a minute and take another look at that.
The pain that Jesus suffered physically from the Roman flogging and crucifixion, which seems immense to us, was nothing to Him. What hurt Jesus more — what caused Him anguish in anticipation of what lay ahead — was experiencing His Father’s wrath for our sakes — for every sin we’ve ever committed, are committing now, and will commit — and He endured that for everyone who has ever lived, is living, or will live.
I cannot begin to fathom what that means. Can you?
BECAUSE OF HIS IMMENSE LOVE for us, He inspired the writing of Holy Scripture. The canon used in most Protestant and Orthodox churches comprises 66 books, written by 44 authors on three continents (and three languages) over nearly 1,600 years, without inconsistency. The Roman Catholic canon adds several documents to the Old Testament. The New Testament canon is identical for all three faith groups.
The Bible provides us with a list of three major areas that Almighty God wants us to know: His love for us, His commandments to us, and His assurance of a just outcome (or judgment) for eternity. So, He says He will forgive our sins when we repent, He tells us how to live our lives in peace and harmony, and He assures us of final judgment where everyone will receive an eternal reward, based on whether they came to believe in Him.
Most people who consider themselves Christians readily accept the part about God’s love and mercy; but it’s the final area — God’s judgment — where many folks go off-script.
Somehow, they figure it’s okay to focus on the “good” stuff; that is, hold fast to God’s promises, give a cursory look at the commandments, and totally ignore the judgment.
The problem is this: The judgment part is what makes the promises so awesome.
IF GOD ALMIGHTY DID NOT JUDGE us, there would be no accounting for any of our actions or words, nor any accounting for actions and words from others. That would leave us with chaos!
But, since God has made it clear He wants each of us to find Him and be in relationship with Him, He has purposed a way to reconnect us. It is through the shed blood of Himself in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.
All who believe in the Lord, who call on His name, will be reconciled to God by God’s grace to us through our faith in Him.
That sets up the tension mentioned earlier — the asymmetrical relationship between the Creator and His creation.
A loving God reassures finite man of His love and protection, while man (men and women) respond less enthusiastically. Some exhibit outright hostility; some are complacent or indifferent; some actually believe they are “in touch” through their good works and church attendance. Some claim a “spiritual” component to their lives, but seldom exhibit any substance.
The Bible is clear in Mathew 7 (versus 13-14 and 21-23) that relatively few actually hear God’s voice and respond to Him with trembling and grateful hands.
WE’RE LEFT WITH THIS ASYMMETRICAL relationship between God and man: The Creator telling His creation, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you,” and the creation responding, “Just say what we want to hear, even if it’s false. Stop telling us what God has said.”
Painful, indeed, to watch God’s chief creation being so disobedient, but for those who respond with a grateful plea, “Come into my heart, Lord Jesus! Forgive my sins and live in my heart for eternity,” there is joy in heaven (Luke 15:7).
Yes, those who “have ears to hear” and respond to His call (Ephesians 2:8) are reconciled to the Creator (Romans 5:11) and become his children (1 John 3:1). If, then, we are His children, we also are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17 NASB; Galatians 4:6-7).
No longer asymmetric.
Instead, perfect symmetry.
PRAYER: O Mighty and Merciful Father, we confess to You our disobedience. Our unwillingness to listen to You, to take You at your Word, our prideful insistence in living life on our terms to suit our goals on our timeline. How foolish we are, O Lord, when You have laid out the path that gives us life, that gives us joy, that gives us love. We pray, Father, that You will forgive our resistance and lead us by the still waters. Sooth our brows, O Lord. Reassure us. Reconnect us. We lift this prayer in the Holy Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen