Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Need to Connect

What is it that keeps us from connecting with other people? One of the basic hindrances is a failure to understand the grace of God. Perhaps we feel inadequate. We feel if other people got to know us they would reject us. Or maybe we have built a fa├žade of being a good moral person and we are afraid of someone finding out what we are really like. We may have developed a pride in our own righteousness that prevents us from associating with certain kinds of people. It is only by recognizing our own sinfulness and that Christ has paid for it that we can begin to tear down the walls we have built around ourselves. Most of us feel guilty and inadequate, and the common psychological solution is to convince ourselves we are not guilty and inadequate. The Christian solution is to say we really are guilty and inadequate, but God has done something about it. 

Scripture states we are all sinners; we have all done wrong things and rebelled against God (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6). This is not a pleasant diagnosis. But it is not an act of kindness to cover up a real problem when it exists. If someone has cancer they need to know it to undergo treatment while there is still a chance for a cure. To not tell an individual until the cancer is untreatable is not helpful but harmful. Scripture says sin and death are 100% treatable if they are brought to the only physician capable of curing them, Jesus Christ. But if left untreated they result in an eternity separated from the presence of God (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:14-15). Also, if we do not deal with these, they can create alienation now from God and from other people.

But Jesus Christ has paid the entire price for our sins (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 2:24-25). So we can be declared righteous (justified) before God through the work of Christ when we put our faith in Him (Romans 3:28; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, we stand before God having been forgiven by His grace (Romans 8:33-34; Hebrews 8:12). Also, any future sins are forgiven, though we need to confess them (1 John 1:9). Further, God works in us to make us adequate to accomplish His purposes (2 Corinthians 3:5, 6; Colossians 1:29). Not that it will always be easy, but God will lead us into what He has for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). If we look at ourselves and our fellow Christians in light of these truths (and see unbelievers as eligible for this forgiveness if they choose it), we can relate to other with confidence. I say this knowing full well in my own life how easy this is to say and how hard it is to do. But it is only in this way that we might gather to encourage one another and stimulate one another to love and good works, as we were told to (Hebrews 10:24-25).

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