I was really moved by a particular quote that I heard today. Moved because it is a reminder that God loves you and me unconditionally and there is nothing we can do by our own efforts to gain his merit or favour. It is so easy to forget this and worry about how I’m doing in the books with God. It is easy to forget that God created the world and simply put our first parents in it without expecting them to help create anything. They simply arrived and rested. Literally. The bible says that the very next day was a holiday in Eden and so they got to simply enjoy the fact that God is the creator who made all for them to enjoy and love. In John, we read the creation story again but this time, it is on the other side of Eden and a few, sinful years on. Even so, it does not seem like that is a hindrance to God’s creative power. In John, we read that the light shone in the darkness and it came to bring light to our darkened, tired hearts (John 1:1-12). The Word that had been in the beginning creating everything had come to the world in literal form to continue creating. Not a new world but new hearts and lives. To all who received Jesus then, was given ‘power to become the sons [and daughters] of God’ (John 1:12). Once again, the creator is at work to change our hearts and give us new life and purpose without us having to strive to be ‘good enough’ for him to accept, or love us.
When we accept Jesus Christ and trust that his efforts are enough then we can trust that we are forgiven, accepted and drawn into relationship with Him. The change in heart, actions, motives and difference that happens in our lives is an undeniable result that we are in relationship with Jesus. For example, after the disciples had spent time with Jesus basically everyday, the people around them would be amazed at the change that they saw in the disciples. When later on Peter and John were preaching at the temple, the people were amazed again at their eloquence and the power in the words of these fearless apostles. They reasoned that they were so different and the way that they were because ‘they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13)’.
Jesus spoke the words “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”(Matthew 11:28). The truth is that trusting in our own good deeds and efforts is tiring and won’t earn us brownie points with God. Our hope is to seek to know Jesus. To truly know and have a relationship with him and then following his requirements in trusting obedience will flow from that relationship.
I cannot and should not trust that my efforts, in any way, will produce God’s favour or love. Accepting exactly who I am and where I am, I can simply come to Christ and rest in the way he loves me. God simply accepts everyone who trusts in Jesus’ actions of salvation. The natural result will be love, the kind of love that sweetens everything. The kind of love where even the most difficult tasks and sacrifices will actually be delightful and enjoyable.
And that’s what I want to be like. Not to worry or be anxious for whether my own efforts are enough but to experience a daily relationship with Jesus so that it won’t be about what I do, but simply that, “hey, it must be because she has been with Jesus”.
I leave this quote here at the bottom and I hope that it gives you peace and rest to trust in God.
When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from Christ, the source of strength and life. Hence it is Satan’s constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour and thus prevent the union and communion of the soul with Christ. The pleasures of the world, life’s cares and perplexities and sorrows, the faults of others, or your own faults and imperfections—to any or all of these he will seek to divert the mind. Do not be misled by his devices. Many who are really conscientious, and who desire to live for God, he too often leads to dwell upon their own faults and weaknesses, and thus by separating them from Christ he hopes to gain the victory. We should not make self the center and indulge anxiety and fear as to whether we shall be saved. All this turns the soul away from the Source of our strength. Commit the keeping of your soul to God, and trust in Him. Talk and think of Jesus. Let self be lost in Him. Put away all doubt; dismiss your fears. Say with the apostle Paul, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. Rest in God. He is able to keep that which you have committed to Him. If you will leave yourself in His hands, He will bring you off more than conqueror through Him that has loved you. (Steps to Christ p.71)