The statement from this morning's Connect the Testament Devotional was so complete, it took my breath away for a moment. "Our relationship with God is intimately tied to how deeply we understand our need for God." It exemplifies why we have such a hard time living for God, completely, when we are prosperous. That doesn't mean that we have to live as paupers but it does give justification to Christ's words, "It's harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven."
When we are in need, I am talking deep, deep need of daily things like food, clean water, shelter from the elements, a pair of shoes that keep our feet dry and warm, we desperately seek God's help and guidance. That commitment to be more like Jesus is there because we don't want any unconfessed sin in our lives to come between us and God's choice to bless us with the basic needs.
As Christians, we think of ourselves as trying to justify our faith with acts of goodness and mercy. It's as if we think we need to do these things in order for God to bless us. There is a biblical need for our faith to show good works, but it is about the heart and purpose of these things that is the determining factor. Do we do them because we want God to love us more and shower us with more or is it because we love Jesus so much that we want to please Him in every way?
We tend to love others in a similar manner, which is dangerous. We show love to others based on what we want them to think of us or to do for us at some point in time. God's love for us was unconditional and put in place before we were ever born on this earth. His sacrifice was put into a plan long before we knew who Jesus was. In that act we have our prime example for loving others. We must look upon everyone as Jesus did; people to be loved even before we know who they are, where they came from, where they are going, what they will have, or what they will do. That's an overwhelming thought! I must love you today before I meet you tomorrow.
My intimacy with God starts with my love for his son, Jesus Christ. My love for Him is demonstrated by my obedience to Jesus. My obedience is exemplified by love for you today.
It’s dangerous when we feel entitled. We may come to believe our communities are righteous while all those outside are not. This can even take place inside our faith communities—popularity or various achievements can create subtle feelings of superiority. We begin to believe it’s something we’ve done that brings us favor.
As he writes to the church in Rome, Paul explains that it’s not anything we do, anything we are, or anything we obtain that makes us right with God. His calling verifies this: “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. Thus I am eager to proclaim the gospel also to you who are in Rome” (Rom 1:14).
Ethnicity was a big obstacle for the early church to overcome, as the church was now made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers. God promised Abraham that through him “all the peoples on earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:3). Christ’s redemptive work had finally made this blessing a reality. God’s favor was no longer reserved for those who might be educated or wise. Paul emphasizes that God can redeem those who—to us—might seem unlikely recipients of redemption.
But most important, our standing before God is not based on our goodness. Paul is eager to proclaim the gospel in Rome because it is belief in Jesus, the fulfillment of the promise, that makes believers righteous before God—“the gospel … is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). Christ’s righteousness has become our righteousness.
If anything, this fact should eliminate any sense of entitlement we might harbor and prompt us to walk in humility with believers and non-believers alike. Our relationship with God is intimately tied to how deeply we understand our need for God. The gospel frees us of any need to attain or achieve. For this, we should be incredibly thankful to God and live with humility for Him.
Do you put stock in the things you think make you a “favored” Christian? --Rebecca Kruyswijk
Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional. Copyright 2013 Lexham Press. Lexham Press, 1313 Commercial St., Bellingham, WA 98225