DayBreaks for 09/20/11 – What Mattered
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:20
Skye Jethani relates a story about a series of meetings he held for college-aged students. The range of topics was wide: doctrine, hell, dating—but each conversation had the same three rules: be honest, be gracious, and be present. On one night the students wanted to discuss habitual sins. Although they struggled with a variety of sinful behaviors, they all agreed on one thing: God was extremely disappointed with them. One student said, “My parents were students at a Christian college in the early ’90s when a revival broke out …. They were on fire for God. And here I am consumed by sin day after day.” Often through tears, many other students shared similar stories about how they believed God must be disappointed with them.
After listening to their stories, Jethani asked, “How many of you were raised in a Christian home?” They all raised their hands. “How many of you grew up in a Bible-centered church?” All hands stayed up. Shaking his head in disbelief, Jethani said, “You’ve all spent eighteen or twenty years in the church. You’ve been taught the Bible from the time you could crawl, and you attend Christian colleges, but not one of you gave the right answer. Not one of you said that in the midst of your sin God still loves you.”
Jethani concluded: “I did not blame the students for their failure. Somewhere in their spiritual formation they were taught, either explicitly or implicitly, that what mattered was not God’s love for them, but how much they could accomplish for him.” – Skye Jethani, With (Thomas H. Nelson, 2011), pp. 80-82
Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28 was not made to perfect people – far from it. There would be many failures in the coming years for those who watched him ascend into heaven. We essentially have the same promise: I will never leave you or forsake you. We seem to forget that God is WITH us. That is the very meaning of the Incarnation, is it not? But just knowing God is WITH us is not necessarily comforting (witness how people reacted when in God’s presence, and what if He were with us but was AGAINST us in His presence?) But the good news is this: God is with us, but He is also FOR us (Rom. 8:31), and that makes the world of difference!
If we can only get our hearts and minds around those two amazing statements, “God is WITH us” and “God is FOR us”, what else do we need to know?
PRAYER: Glory to you, Lord, for these two great promises and statements that buoy our faith and give us certain hope! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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