“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For Your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open Your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears Your Name. We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear Your Name.” Daniel 9:17-19
God does what He does because of who He is. Maybe that seems obvious, but I’m not sure any of us really understands it fully, or maybe it’s just that we don’t really believe it deep down. This is evidenced by the way we live and think. No, I don’t mean our trained responses in church or our Christian circles, us Church rats know the “right answers” and pretty words that make us sound smart and spiritual; I mean the core belief that informs our actions and habitual thought processes. Let me give an example.
I know, as a fact, that the bible says God loved the world enough to send His son to die for sins so that we might be drawn near to Him. I can quote John 3:16 and 1 Peter 3:18 to prove this. I also know that when I “confess my sins He is faithful and just to forgive [me my] sins and purify [me] from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Yet, after I fall into sin (translation from Christianese: pretty much anything stupid) I am stuck with feelings of guilt and frustration long after I’ve confessed it. Why? Because even though I know the truth, I don’t always believe it, as is evidenced by my feelings.
As usual, I doubt I’m the only one who struggles with this.
So what’s the problem? Why can’t I make this head knowledge heart knowledge? I think one of the reasons (and there are probably many more) is that another belief is getting in the way. I think what I really believe is that God’s love for me is based on me! And why not? I’ve read in a thousand different fairy tales/romantic movies (etc.) about heroes falling for heroines because of “X”. They see their lady and are enthralled; first by her beauty and later by her character. It is because of her that they will slay dragons and face perils, it is because of her that they will risk life and limb, it is because of her that they might die in battle! Rarely do we read about a hero who fights for a bitter, old hag. If you can think of such a story let me know, because I sure can’t.
These stories make sense to our human minds; for, after all, why would anyone fall in love and risk everything for someone ungrateful, someone unworthy? But God is not human nor does He have a human mind. God loves His creations because He is a loving, relational, and merciful creator and because He has stamped His image on us. We’ve marred it, made it ugly, we are ungrateful, unthankful, unfaithful, and give the worship He deserves to other things. Yet, He sacrifices Himself for us; redeems us; makes us beautiful.
This is the truth I need to remember, the truth we all need to remember. It needs to replace our messed up beliefs and work to change the way we live and think. We can’t do this on our own we need the Hold Spirit to invade and uproot the lies in our hearts and help us stand on the firm foundation that is God’s character rather than the weak one that is our own.