Sunday, September 18, 2011

Perfect love

When my feelings get really hurt, when someone lets me down, when my expectations are unmet, when someone acts unjust and transgresses against me...these are the moments when I see God's goodness and perfection the most. These are the times that cause me to realize my desperate need for His love. These are the events in life that really shed light for me on God's unconditional, unfailing, perfect love; His unfathomable, never-ending grace; and the awesomeness of Christ's righteousness.

As tears pour down my face, my eyes burn, my nose runs and I feel utterly overwhelmed by the imperfection of people in my life- by all people in general- and the sin in this world that causes so much pain, I realize just how perfect my Heavenly Father, my Lord and my Savior really is.

I can't possibly attain perfection despite how hard and how often I try to be perfect. The people who have betrayed, abandoned, hurt, disappointed, and sinned against me can't possibly attain perfection either. No matter how much they really love me and want to show it or do right by me, they simply can't. We are all born into sin and are prone to sin without the Holy Spirit working in and leading us. Even then, we won't be successful all the time.

That's why Jesus is so amazing! He lived the perfect life that I can't and that none of us could. He acted, spoke, served and loved the way none of us possibly can- in utter perfection. As I dwell on this mystery and awe-inspiring truth, I'm overwhelmed by relief and thankfulness for what he did. I so badly want to live the perfect life. I want to behave, speak, serve and love everyone the way God and people want me to. I so badly want people to do the same towards me. But it's okay that I don't live up to this standard for myself and it's okay that the people in my life don't reach this standard and my expectations either. Because Jesus did. He lived the life that all of us can't. Then he stood in my place and accepted the punishment that I deserve for my sin. He paid the sacrifice so that I wouldn't have to- so that they wouldn't have to- and so that we all could be reconciled to God. Now, when God looks at me he sees the righteousness of Christ. Isn't that amazing?! Now, I can receive the love and relationship with God that I so desperately need.

We all yearn to be loved. By our parents, by our husband or wife, by our children, by our friends. I've finally made the connection between my struggle to be perfect and the need to be loved. Because I didn't get the love I needed and wanted from my parents, I strived harder and harder to be perfect so that they and anyone else in my life would have no reason not to love me. I wanted to be lovable. And I think that tendency, that mindset, has made it's way into how I relate to God as well. Sometimes I struggle with being perfect and legalistic because I so badly want God to love me. I don't want him to have any reason not to. I don't want him to find any faults in me so that i'm seen as lovable.

But I don't have to. It's completely unnecessary. He loves me despite my sin and in the midst of my mess. "He loves you just as much on your worst day as on your best day" -Joyce Meyer. He knows I can't ever be perfect and completely righteous for him. He calls us to try so that he may be seen in us by others (John 13:35) and as a way for us to show our love back to him (John 14:15). But the reason God is so different from any body else and so worthy of praise and worship is because of his perfect love. While we were yet sinners (while I was and continue to sin, acting in opposition to God), God so loved the world (He loved me so much) that he sent his one and only son to die on the cross (He paid the ultimate sacrifice/highest price. He came down to earth in flesh and stood in my place) so that whoever believes in him would not be condemned and perish but be saved and have eternal life.

My need to be loved, perfectly and completely, is met by Him and Him alone.

How great you are, Sovereign God. There is no one like you. There is no one holy like you, there is no one besides you (2 Samuel 7:22). I consider everything else a loss, rubbish, compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and his love (Philippians 3:8).

Have you realized your desperate need to be loved? Have you realized your desperate need for a savior, for someone to rescue you, for someone to stand in your place and take the punishment that you deserve so that you can receive God's love? Have you received the love of your Creator and Heavenly Father? It is a completely free gift from God- his grace, his mercy and his love is completely free of cost to you because it's already been paid in full (Ephesians 2:8). Nothing can separate you from it and it will never be taken away from you (Romans 8:38-39, Hebrews 13:5).

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