“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
Growing up, one of the most unforgettable person in my life would probably have to be my kindergarten teacher. She was a lovely woman who genuinely cared for and nurtured the children that were placed under her care. She was a woman who believed in training up children to have proper manners, and etiquette. At the time of course it didn’t seem to be the case, but looking back at it now I can see her efforts of trying to instill certain manners so that children would be raised with the right attitude. For instance, one of her biggest rules was the preparation process for lunch time. When lunch time approached, all students would be called back in the school and be asked to wash up, and change their clothes before heading into the lunch room. The idea behind this was that it was inappropriate to sit before a well prepared meal in a dirty and/or unclean state. There needed to be respect and proper etiquette.
That mentality of having to be clean and presentable before anything or anyone, has followed most of us past our kindergarten stage. Think of your jobs, school, church, or even a simple social gathering with friends. We all put in some kind of effort to be clean and presentable before we find ourselves in the presence of anyone else. Although there is nothing wrong with that, the truth is, we often associate this need with acceptance and personal value of ourselves. While we are becoming obsessed with how well and proper, or well mannered we are on the outside, our inside remain a mess.
But here is some relief. Unlike people, God doesn’t demand us to be perfect and clean before approaching Him. He doesn’t expect us to have reached a particular level of perfection before coming to Him. Rather, He accepts us as we are, and through our relationship with Him HE begins to cleanse us and perfect us to what HE desires us to be. Our present state and where or how we are when we approach Him does not take away the great value He has already placed on us. The verse above used for this blog is a verse that often stirs me emotionally. Much of God’s word (when understood) is moving, but this particular verse goes to show God’s nature in contrast to ours. Notice that it begins by expressing the purpose of God – to show, to demonstrate, to prove HIS perfect and undeserved love in the current state that we were in. While we were still sinners, while our hearts were turned away from Him, while we did not care for Him, while we were still filthy, and unclean, and damaged, and forgotten… He was eager to demonstrate His love. In our moment of absolute imperfection is when He choose to demonstrate His perfect love by giving us Christ.
He did not wait until we “got it together”, or until we made the effort to do right by Him. Rather, He wanted to make Himself known through His perfect love which was poured out in our most unclean state. I talk to many people today who say “I’m not good enough for God”, “I’m too messed up for church”, “why would God want someone like me?” and in most cases I’m screaming back saying “BUT THAT’S HOW HE WANTS YOU!” You see, God did not send down His only son for a perfect people – He sent His son down because He saw that perfection apart from HIS love was impossible. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten that God isn’t looking for you to be perfect. He’s looking for you to be willing. He’s looking for you to acknowledge your mess, but to also understand that His love is far greater than any mess you’re in.
For those of you reading this that may be at a place in your life where you feel unworthy of God because of what you may have done in your past, or continue to do in your present, I want to encourage you by leaving you with these final words: He chose to demonstrate His love for you while seeing exactly where you are right now. Jesus did not die for the person you might become tomorrow, He died for the person you are today! We come to Him just as we are, with all of our baggage, all of our mess, all of our insecurities, our fears, our weaknesses, our doubts, our filth, and our poor habits, etc. If we are willing to come to Him as we are, then we are making a way for His love to begin a powerful transformation in our lives. A transformation that will go far beyond what you would have desired to do on your own, for yourself.
See you next Monday!