Jared and I have been going through Hebrews and every time we finish our reading for the day we are in so much awe of who God is. A few days ago, we read Hebrews 11:1-16 and the thing that stood out to me most was God’s love. The passage reads:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
The first thing that stood out to me was verse 16: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” As I started processing this passage aloud with Jared I kept landing on verse 16. I kept saying, “Do I desire a heavenly country more than the worldly one I’m in?” and “In those moments of sinfulness when I don’t desire a heavenly country more than this worldly one is God ashamed of me?” As I talked through this verse aloud Jared stopped me. He quickly jumped in and said, “God is NEVER ashamed of you. You know what He sees when He looks at you…Jesus” (needless to say, tears began streaming down my face when Jared said that).
// It’s moments like these that made me want to start a blog. Moments where God has left me speechless with the fact that He knows exactly what I need, every moment of every day. Moments where I have been reminded of a theological truth I’ve heard a thousand times, but this time, God speaks to me in a new way. Moments where I realize just how ALIVE the Word of God is. Moments when God opens my squinty eyes a wee bit more to His character and the God He is. It’s these moments that we live for, right?! This is the process of God drawing me nearer to him and the process of ultimate sanctification. //
Lately I’ve been struggling to truly comprehend God’s love – and why He continues to love me through all of my sin. This is something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Growing up as a competitive gymnast, it was engrained in me that anything less than perfect wasn’t good enough. Every skill of every routine I ever did was judged. At the end of the routine I received a score that told me just how close to (or far from) perfection I was. The judges watched and deducted for everything from the smallest bend of the leg to the most embarrassing falls (and they even deduct if you pick your wedgie, and in those little leotards that happens pretty easily- trust me).
This mindset engrained in me during my days in gymnastics is something I continue to carry with me today and this mentality has slowly been seeping into my view of God. I have grown increasingly aware of my sin (which is a good thing), but at the same time I have started to keep a mental score-card of my sinfulness. Each time I fall short I feel as though I’m falling farther and farther away from God. So this loving reminder from Jared that all God sees when He looks at me is Jesus couldn’t have been more perfect. He lovingly reminded me that God doesn’t operate the same way I do. He doesn’t mark down every wrong move I make and count it against me. He doesn’t love me because of my achievements or successes…He loves me because He loves me. And He loves you the same way. He loves us so much that He sent His Son and our Savior to die the most painful death in the history of mankind, so that you and I could be free from ALL of our sin.
“Jesus’ totally naked body was flaunted in humiliation before a watching world. His flesh was ripped to shreds; His body was bruised from head to toe; He had to heave His body upward for every breath He breathed; and His nervous system sent constant signals of excruciating pain to His brain. Blood drenched Jesus’ face and streamed from His hands, His feet, and from the countless cuts and gaping wounds the scourging had left upon His body” (Rick Renner).
That’s the price of our redemption. “…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Our salvation is something we can only scratch the surface of fully comprehending. However, in our finite minds we can grasp that God sent His only Son, who was without blemish, to die the most excruciating death so that He could show us His love through a personal relationship with us. Jesus fulfilled God’s promise to us in the MOST humbling way: He bears no sin of His own, yet the ENTIRETY of our sin. “…in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him” (Col. 1:19-22).
Because of what Jesus did for us…God doesn’t count our sins against us (“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-9). We are HOLY and BLAMELESS (Colossians 1:22). Our salvation isn’t based on our performance (“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God” Ephesians 2:8). We are victors of this world (“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37).
Keeping this very real and heavy truth in mind, I think back to the question I was asking myself in regards to Hebrews 11:16 – “Do I desire a heavenly country more than the worldly one I’m in?” and “In those moments of sinfulness when I don’t desire a heavenly country more than this worldly one is God ashamed of me?” The answer is no, I don’t ALWAYS desire a heavenly country more than this worldly one I live in. No one does. But even in those moments when my heart isn’t longing for the heavenly country to which I truly belong God’s love for me is left unmoved. Instead, He looks at me and sees Jesus because nothing (not even my own sin) can separate me from the perfect, sacrificial love that was displayed for my salvation. “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
What better time to be reminded of this truth than the week of Easter. Praise You, O God, for speaking this truth into my heart in such a time as this.