Gospel

There’s a God who loves you more than you know. Like crazy in love with you.

And because He’s crazy in love with you, more than anything else He wants a relationship with you. It makes sense right? When you love someone, you want to be in relationship with them. Not a relationship that’s one-way, but one that goes both ways. God loves you. You then love Him back.

So for argument’s sake, let’s just say you might respond with, “Yeah. I really do want to be in a relationship with God.”

While that’s awesome and fantastic, this is a relationship that we just don’t stroll into. Because it’s way more sacred than that, because God is way more sacred than that. He’s not only a perfect friend who’s walking beside you, but He’s also a perfect Being who spoke the entire universe into existence, and who holds it all in the palm of His hands.

He’s sacred like that.

So this kind of a sacred relationship probably requires sacred terms.

And there’s the rub, right?

God is sacred. We however, are not. There are sacred parts of us, and we have been fashioned from the hand of a sacred God. We are loved and pursued and created uniquely. I mean when you were born, the angels just went “Wow”.  And then they looked at God and said, “Nice.”

So there is a sacredness about you, but it doesn’t come close to the sacredness of God.

And God’s not stupid. He knows that about us. He’s not sitting in heaven waiting for us to figure this stuff out. We already know that God is mysterious as a Being, but He’s never mysterious about an ENTRY into a sacred relationship with Him.

EVEN THOUGH GOD IS A MYSTERIOUS BEING, HE’S NEVER BEEN MYSTERIOUS ABOUT HOW WE CAN ENTER INTO A SACRED RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.

He’s actually made that entry point, well… easy.

And impossible.

Something that costs nothing.

Something that costs everything.

Which, if we think about it for a moment, actually sounds like any great relationship with a husband or wife or son or daughter or parent or grandparent.

And for God, there’s this thing we keep doing that stands in direct opposition to entering into THAT kind of sacred relationship, with THAT kind of God. And unfortunately, we’ve got this thing in us us – like at the DNA heart level, if there’s such a thing.

You’ve probably already heard the word, and you may not read anymore after you read the word, and I wouldn’t blame you at all, especially because what I’m gonna say after the word. But I think you might be surprised.

Wait for it…

SIN.

I hate that word, if I’m honest – not because it doesn’t describe me perfectly, but because it’s SO STINKIN’ loaded with cultural assumption and misunderstanding – and that’s because many Christians have shouted their laundry list of rules and regulations at the world, and expected that to be, in some way, attractive. And then they make picket signs and write words like “sin” all over them, and show up at gay men’s funerals and make sure that word shines greater than the beautiful life that was taken, and call people “sinners” (although Jesus never called anyone, except the religious elites, a “sinner”).

And the whole word just gets messed up.

But it’s not that complicated. Sin simply means that you’re not perfect. Sin means that you’ve made mistakes. Sin means that you’ve missed the target. That’s hard to admit for a lot of people, but think about it. Can you really say with absolute confidence that you are perfect, that you’ve never made a single mistake, and that you’ve hit the target every single time?

It’s sounds a little Narcissistic when you say it that way. Try standing in the mirror (when everyone in the house is gone) and repeating these phrases out loud:

I am perfect.

I have never made a single mistake.

I have hit the target every time.

After you stand in front of mirror saying those things, you’ll probably just crack up laughing because you already know how insane they sound.

And that’s why we can’t just stroll into a relationship with a sacred and holy Being who has no sin. It’s because He’s not like us, and we’re not like Him. There is a barrier, and unfortunately, it’s not a barrier that we can overcome by just getting better. And even though we all want to get better, there is no “better enough” with God.

We all (Paul says) “fall short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23). That’s just another way of saying that God is sacred, but we are not so much – that when God stands in the mirror and says those things, God is telling the truth.

But time to land this plane with some really good news.

At the heart of Christianity, everything rises and falls with a man named Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was God Himself, but wrapped up in human flesh.

JESUS AND GOD ARE ONE.

And this God-man named Jesus was perfect. Here on earth He was perfect. He never made a mistake, and He never missed the target.  And He died on this earth by voluntarily being pinned to a wooden crossbeam, and remaining  there in absolute agony until He breathed His final breath.

Why?

So we wouldn’t have to.

Jesus was not simply an amazing man who laid down his life. He was a perfect man who laid down his life FOR US.

JESUS WAS NOT SIMPLY AN AMAZING MAN WHO LAID DOWN HIS LIFE. HE WAS A PERFECT MAN WHO LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US.

And if I’m you, I’m thinking, “Okay Christianity… you just made a huge jump from me not being perfect to a man dying on a cross.” And when I was you, I was thinking that. Where’s the leap? The jump? The connection?

But here’s where it all starts, I think.

Thousands of years ago, old Moses proclaimed that the life of any animal is in the blood (Leviticus 17:14). Again…

THE LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD.

You already know this truth if you’ve ever had a blood transfusion. I once had three spine surgeries over a span of eight months.  Before each surgery, I signed a form that allowed someone else’s blood to be infused into mine, because it would save my life. I would need to have life put into me – life from someone else.

That’s what happened on the cross, times a bizillian. The blood of Christ is offered to you –  not because you’re an amazing mom or because you give money away to poor kids or because you’re an exceptional athlete.

The blood of Christ is given to you as a gift, and because there is no other true Life-giver anywhere. Ever. It really has nothing to do with tolerance, but uniqueness. Jesus is just one of a kind.

It’s given to you (and I know we’ve been through this already) because God is in love with you. Crazy in love with you. So when Jesus says that God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son, and when you see that verse written on a poster board that a crazy guy is holding in the end zones of countless 80’s NFL games, then that’s what He’s talking about.

And the proof that Jesus is God is that He didn’t stay dead. There is nothing more crucial to the Christian faith than that truth that we hold to. “Resurrected” is the term we use. His life not only given FOR us, but now His life given IN us.

God’s life, in me.

JUST IMAGINE THAT – THE VERY LIFE OF GOD, NOW LIVING IN YOU.

In other words, the resurrection of Jesus ensures that His very life is now coursing through our veins. And that’s the coolest thing ever, both in this life and the next.

So…

Love has choices. Relationships have choices. They all have boundaries. And as I’ve lived this life for over 50 years, I really see three choices that are available to the reader, to you as someone who still has a heart that’s beating..

OPTION 1: DISAGREE WITH IT

Make none of this true. And I’ve been there, and I’ve disagreed. And I pretended none of it was true. And it sucked, because there was always this Something drawing me back. And if you wanted to make a case that it was actually my North American religious upbringing, and not really the Something that was drawing me back, I’d tell you that there is NOTHING about my North American religious upbringing that is drawing me back to Christ at all. Quite the opposite. If you knew the stories, you’d be running in the opposite direction with me.

OPTION 2: EARN IT

Believe it’s true, but not trust in what Jesus did on the cross, and try to do a bunch of good things to earn your way into this relationship. Good luck, I say. Because do you really think you’ll ever be able to do the funny mirror thing and actually have it be true? Remember, that’s the standard for a relationship with God.

OPTION 3: OPEN IT

Or, you can simply say, “Okay God. I’m gonna open the gift. And I’m gonna ask You to forgive me of every time when I did something that you wouldn’t. And I’m gonna love you back. For real.”

It’s your call. It’s always your call. Because the beauty of true love is that God will never ever stop pursuing you, AND He will never ever force you to love Him back.

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