I was struck recently by the fact that I was looking at life all wrong. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to get here when the Bible is so clear, but sometimes our stubborn selfishness keeps us from fully realizing Truth. This truth will absolutely change the way you view life and relationships! It is the truth of love and grace.
Ok, so you already know of God’s love and grace, but do you really? Let’s investigate:
Many of us struggle with the doubt that God is for us, loves us, and is trustworthy. We are humans who view the physical world and live in the physical world, so it is hard for us to comprehend the spiritual world. Many of us believe that God sent His Son to die on the cross for us and that through this we are offered freely the redemption of sins and adoption into His family. But if you aren’t thinking to yourself right now, “Wow, how flippant was that comment,” then chances are you don’t have the right view of God or life. In other words, you may have “lost that lovin’ feeling”.
In order for us to have a right view of this life, we have to have a right view of God and His love for us. This starts with having a right view of our sin. Without our right view of sin, we would have no need for a Savior! I think Paul puts it so rightly when he says in Romans 7:15-24:
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (emphasis mine)
If we begin to fully realize (to our human capability) the depth of our sin and our depravity, then marry it with the grace of God, we begin to understand the meaning of life. Let’s look at the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26, Luke 22, Mark 14) If we start to read that encounter Jesus has with His father right before the death on the cross, we get an accurate picture of the Love of Christ for us. We cannot simply read this as a story or as meant for another, but internalize it as it should be ~ an intimate look into the pain and suffering that Jesus was willing to bear for the “wretched man that I am”. The prayer that Jesus makes for us to His father, should be taken as personally as it is ~ meant for you!! When you then look at the subsequent events that then take place in order to fulfill the sacrifice for OUR wretchedness, we start to get an accurate picture of what the Love of God for us personally looks like. And we are just touching the surface of Love, not to mention the plans He has for us personally or the promises He makes to us that will never be broken and the continual way He is molding us unto His Son.
When I truly think of the wretchedness of who I am (daily!) and marry that with God’s undying and enduring grace, I immediately fall to my knees. Why me Lord? I think about Heaven and think that I am lucky enough to just stand at the gate, but the beautiful Love of God is that He not only lets you stand at the gate, but He takes you by His nail pierced hand and leads you to the place He has PERSONALLY prepared for you! If this doesn’t astonish you, then your view of who you are in light of who God is isn’t accurate! What a gift! But (in sounding like a cheesy infomercial) it doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t just save us for eternity, He gives us unending, daily mercy and uses us in the world. He has plans to perfect and restore us, while accomplishing things through us! Not only do we get to go to Heaven, but God promises to complete the work He began is us, Philippians 1:6. He wants to perfect us and bring us back to that which He always intended and nothing can thwart that (not even our mistakes). How beautiful and full of love, grace and mercy!
So then, how does this affect our daily living? The real question is, how doesn’t it? We tend to see our relationships as vertical and horizontal. I actually don’t agree with this. There is only a vertical relationship. Our horizontal relationships should be directed by just an outpouring of the love we are receiving vertically. This is why the Bible is full of God’s commands to get out of yourself and be His hands and feet. (Ephesians – yes all of Ephesians!)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
It is funny to have an “AHA” moment. We are thick skulled and stubborn. God repeatedly tells us that we who are believers are now ALIVE in Christ and that we become the hands and feet of God. Yet, we still look at this life as our own. Praise the Lord it isn’t. Once we know the Truth, this life no longer belongs to us ~ but it becomes a manifestation of the Love of God. When God says to do ALL things to the glory of God, He is talking about seeing everything we do as, not only a thank you gift to Him, but an example of Him to others, so that they, too, might come to know the Truth. This life isn’t about YOU! It isn’t about what job you will do, what grades you get, how many friends you have, or how happy you are. Your life becomes a living representation of the Love of God and the sacrifice of Christ.
When you start to look at life this way, it will change the way you interact with everyone! Take my husband for instance. If I take the vows I made as though I made them to my husband, I will not want to do them. Humanly I will feel hurt, or feel like he doesn’t deserve my vows on certain days. We take the marriage personally. Yet, if I take my vows as though I am making promises to God (which I am) then it makes it different. I don’t want to break the vows I make to God.
We need to look at our relationships and our activities “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes) as unto God and not each other or for ourselves. We do them as an outpouring of the love we receive from God. If we remove ourselves from the picture, it brings a whole new mindset as to how we walk among each other! The offenses we feel, the pride we harbor, the sinful desires of our life melt away because we look at our lives as a living sacrifice to our Lord, so that at the end of our life, we can stand before the burning fire (the Bema judgement of Romans 14 and 2 Corinthians 5) and reveal a crown of glory that we can lay at the broken feet of Jesus Christ!
I will never be able to obtain the worthiness to receive the amazing gift of love from my God, but I can use this life to be His workmanship, His example, His grace, and His love to a fallen world, so that they, too, may know the unmatched joy of the love of God.
Kristen Wells has a bachelors of science degree in biblical counseling and is the author of The Warring Soul. She resides in California with her beautiful family. Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading, knitting, playing board games, and mentoring youth. When she is not attending to the needs of her family, you can find Kristen curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee or fellowshipping with friends. Above all, she lives to exemplify Christ in her everyday life and help others to find their way out of darkness.