When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. (Romans 5:6-11, NLT)
The First Step on the Journey
We’re continuing to reflect on the nature of our faith by exploring where we are on our spiritual journey and how our relationship with God has unfolded in our lives. We have discovered the point of departure in our divine-human relationship – that inner conflict between the good selves we were created to be and the allure of evil around us. Moving forward from that point involves realizing that we don’t have to resolve that conflict alone. In fact, if left to our own devices, we can’t resolve that conflict. Our internal battle is not one we can win on our own power. Knowing God’s law and understanding God’s teachings, only serve to make us aware of how incapable we are to keep them.
The good news is that we don’t have to fight this battle alone The very God who desires to be in relationship with us is the God who makes that relationship possible by providing the resolution to our inner conflict – Jesus Christ, who through his death and resurrection conquered the power of evil in the world. Scripture is completely clear about this: Evil has been overcome. Our hope, as we follow Jesus is not just hearing that message but experiencing that victory ourselves. It is grasping that God’s grace is more powerful than our sin. It is in recognizing that our relationship with God is one of friendship. By becoming human in Jesus, fully living, sacrificially dying, and triumphantly rising for us, God has made us his friends.
Experiencing God’s grace and restoring our friendship with God begins when we recognize our sinfulness, earnestly repent, and accept the forgiveness God offers us through Jesus Christ. This grace is the redemptive, healing, recreating love of God. It is a gift that we receive not because we deserve it or have earned it, but because God freely gives it. It is a radical love for us, a love that is more powerful than sin, that reconciles our relationship, and makes us “right” with God. When we accept that grace, God wipes the slate of our lives clean, and empowered by God’s love, we can take the first steps to move forward on our spiritual journey.
Over these past few months, we have reflected on the importance of Scripture as a crucial way to connect to God’s movement in our lives as we follow Jesus and our spiritual journey unfolds. We have discovered that the inner conflict that lies at the heart of being human is only our point of departure, not our final destination. As you fast and pray this month, my prayer is that you would remember taking that first step of your spiritual journey. That as you continue to follow, you would become more and more aware of God’s grace and God’s ongoing desire for you to be his friend.
If you can’t recall taking that first step, I pray that you would recognize that God desires you to begin moving toward the good self God created you to be. That you would come to understand that Jesus Christ is the only means of resolving our inner conflict between good and evil. And that you would experience God’s grace in all it fullness, calling you to become a friend of God.