If I asked you to describe yourself, what would you say?
Would you tell me your job title or refer to your relationships – husband, wife, son, daughter, friend? Would you talk about your successes, or failures, your dreams or your past? These are parts of who you are, but you are more than what you do or where you live.
You are a human being who is loved by God. You are intelligent, beautiful, loved, and not alone.
Take a minute to think about that – God loves you, and not because of what you do. He loves you for who you are and will never leave you because of anything you’ve done. Isn’t that just the kind of love you’ve always dreamed about?
You might not think of yourself as exceptional, but you are. You are a hand-crafted original. God made you on purpose, no accidents of fate or chance. The Bible says that when God created man and woman He “saw everything that He had made, indeed it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) God created you and He is interested in the details of your life. The Bible tells us that Gods knows each of us better than we know ourselves – he even knows how many hairs are on your head! (Matthew 10:30)
It’s pretty incredible to think about. The same God who created the stars and turns the colors of the leaves in Fall, created you. You are His masterpiece and He loves you. God created you to have a relationship with Him.
So, why does it sometimes feel like you and God aren’t on speaking terms?
You know what it’s like when you have an argument with a friend and there’s distance between you? It’s like that with God and us. God could have created us as robots that just did whatever we were told, but he didn’t. He gave us free will, the ability to choose. It’s because of his love for us. Love without choice isn’t love, it’s coercion. You can’t have any real relationship without choice.
So, as humans we get to choose, and in the very beginning we chose to go our own way. Sin entered the world and with it came a separation from God, a distance in our relationship with him. I know what you’re thinking, “Sin? But I’m a good person” Being a good person isn’t enough.
The word sin in the Greek comes from a word that means simply “missing the mark”. We can try really, really hard to be good people, but to be able to be in relationship with God we’d need to be perfect in our thoughts, attitudes and actions. We all know that’s not possible. The Bible tells us that the punishment for sin is death – eternal separation from God. We are all sinners but that is not where the story ends.
If God loves us, why would we perish? That’s a good question. God cannot just ignore our sin. God is just – he is concerned with right and wrong. The price of our sin is death – eternal separation from God – someone had to pay that price. God couldn’t take away the punishment. If he did that it would be like saying that sin isn’t really a problem. It would mean pretending that everything is okay between us instead of actually repairing the relationship.
Since God loves us, he does not want us to perish. So He sent His son Jesus to die in our place. Jesus, Himself divine; God in human form; God’s only son, lived a perfect life and was put to death on a cross. He died a death He didn’t deserve so we could live a life we couldn’t earn. God made an unthinkable sacrifice. There was a card years ago that said something like this:
“How much do you love me?” I asked Jesus.
And he stretched out his arms on a cross and said “this much.”
It says in the Bible that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). God loves us so much that he didn’t wait for us to come to him with our need, he took care of it before we even realized we needed him.
It doesn’t end there though. Jesus died, and three days later He rose from the dead. Sounds impossible right? Jesus is the Son of God, not just a good man, a teacher or a prophet. Jesus proved who He was by raising up from the dead. Through Him we can know God because Jesus paid for the sin that separated us from God.
The First Step
Knowing about Jesus isn’t enough. Each of us has to accept what Jesus did for us. Imagine you were dying of some horrible disease and the doctor came into your hospital room and told you that he had the cure. Knowing about the medicine would not cure you. You’d have to take it for it to affect your condition. It’s the same thing with God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice, unless we own it, it cannot save us.
Owning what Jesus did is agreeing with God that you are a sinner. It’s not an easy thing to say. But as any recovery program will tell you, you have to own the problem before you can start to fix it. If you were back in that hospital room and told the doctor “I don’t need your medicine, I’m not sick” he wouldn’t be able to do much for you. You need to agree with God that you need Him in your life and that there is nothing you can do in your own strength to make up for your sin. That’s the first step.
The Second Step
The Bible tells us that if we accept what Jesus did for us, our sins are forgiven. Psalm 103 verse 12 tells us “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” “Transgressions” is just another word for “sins”. Think about that, ‘as far as the east is from the west’. That’s pretty far.
Accepting Christ does not transform you into a perfect person. But it does take you from being a condemned person and sets you free. You and I will keep sinning, but because our relationship with God has been restored we can go to him and ask for forgiveness and strength to make better choices. We can be assured that when we do sin and honestly seek forgiveness we will be forgiven.
You may have heard of a version of the Bible called The Message. The Message tries to put the truth of the Bible into more modern English. The Message explains sin and forgiveness this way:
But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.
With the barrier of sin gone, we can have the relationship with God that He wants for us. This relationship promises strength for today and eternal life, being with Him forever, after death. All you have to do is accept this gift in faith by and act of the will. The doctor is there with the cure, you just have to take it.
How do I accept Jesus?
The final step is a prayer asking God to come into your life and make you the person He wants you to be. Prayer is just talking to God. There is no right or wrong way to do it. God is not concerned about the words that you choose, he cares about the state of your heart. He hears you. You can pray a prayer something like this:
Jesus, I want to know you personally. I know that I am a sinner and that nothing I could do can make up for that. Thank you for dying in my place and paying the price for my sin. I know that my sin doesn’t separate me from God anymore. Thank you for forgiving me. I know that you love me and that I will spend eternity with you. I want you to be my Savior. Come into my life and take control, make me the person you want me to be.
God invites you into relationship with him. He is ready to welcome you home.
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