Someone once said they wanted to win Christians to Christ, the statement has stuck with me over the years and I suppose there’s a bit of an echo of it in me. Winning Christians to Christ sounds odd doesn’t it. But wait, before you think I’ve flipped, or am entirely off the wall, let me say more of what I mean.
My desire is to see those who already know God come to know Him more closely, this is what I’ve worked towards with various ones, and groups, for over twenty years.
I want to see people who don’t know Jesus introduced to him and becoming wholehearted followers, of course I do. Yet the drumbeat creating my rhythm is for those who DO believe to go beyond what they’ve learnt and experienced, into areas which until now have been too far off for them.
My heart is for people to know they are loved, more deeply and comprehensively than they can imagine, by the one who would stop at nothing to demonstrate that love.
I’m not content for an intellectual understanding of this to be the stopping place, that may be a good stepping stone, but it isn’t supposed to be our destination.
All too often we imagine a bible study, or a talk, or a book, will satisfy, and these can be great as an appetiser, but the meal which satisfies is to know true close relationship with God as our Father, Jesus as our heroic rescuing elder brother, and the Holy Spirit as our dear friend and helper.
To experience them in these ways is far more than black print on fine white paper, and was always intended to be so.
When God met Adam in the garden it was real, not abstract. Adam felt his bare feet on cool grass, he heard the sound of God in the garden and drew near to hear His voice to know what He would say. Not discussions about hypothetical situations, but more like:
How did it go today? Thought of any good names for the last of the animals yet?
All levity aside though.
This God is beautiful and so is His gospel, and not only for those who haven’t heard it yet, but also for those to whom it really is the old, old story, those who might be tempted to think they’ve heard it all before, and feel they’ll simply pass on by as there’s nothing new, and in a way they are right, there isn’t anything strictly new, but aspects of it which perhaps aren’t familiar, or aren’t lived in the good of, can appear new, these could even turn their lives around.
What if you knew, really knew, deep down, that you are loved, just as you are, no waiting or striving to become more loveable, clean, or acceptable, because you have been made just that, loveable, clean, and acceptable because of Jesus, what if it had sunk into you that you are affectionately and fondly loved by the Father, the Redeemer, the Comforter?
Why would Jesus have lived the life He did if it wasn’t necessary?
Why would He give up so much if you and I could manage to be even just a bit lovely on our own?
Our Father God loved us before we knew Him, and He still does. He chased us down through all of our years, pursuing us with tender love and mercy until we turned and gave in to His loving embrace.
He doesn’t love us less now because we know Him and should know better.
Do you think He backs off from us? No, He pursues us still. He presses into us to make our hearts burn with longing to be more than we have been, not to clean ourselves up, but to live in the heat of His close gaze, letting Him look and see and burn off whatever doesn’t fit with the reflection of Jesus, drawing us to eagerly leave behind the rubbish we discover in our quest to respond and be close to Him, to learn to enjoy walking in step with Him, in step with the Spirit.
Do we want to miss out on this?
Let’s allow that gaze of His to provoke us to shed our rubbish, knowing all the while we are welcome to come to Him, absolutely welcome, because His plan to save and to redeem is so effective, so deeply transforming, we can know both the desire and the willing ability to walk with Him.
Close proximity is what enables this, not just study and information gathering, we DO need to know the truth and so we DO need to be people of the word, but it is in His warm presence as The Truth and The Word that we discover the desire and ability to become what He’s made us to be.
Our heart’s cry has to be ‘More, of you Lord!’
Here are some words to take with you as you go with The Word today.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.
God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.
And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.
1 John 4:9-16
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.