Do you sometimes feel like a failure? Like a shameful person because you aren't happy and strong all the time? Like you should be 'doing better' or 'progressing more' in your Christian walk? Like you ought to be overcoming more, having more victory, doing more for the Kingdom? Like you are a bad Christian for having failures, struggles, problems, doubts and inconsistencies in your Christian walk? I have felt these feelings a lot and still struggle with them!
I have often had the idea that once I learned about grace, everything would just be perfect in my outward Christian life - I would finally have it all together, sins would fall away, struggles would cease, my faith would be perfect, I'd be on fire for the kingdom all the time, I'd be living drunk in the glory of God's presence 24/7, I'd always be happy and victorious and strong! Yet that isn't exactly what happened, for I am still in this earthly body, still human and still subject to failing and listening to the enemy's lies, etc. I think we all still struggle, even people who believe in grace.
The problem with my thinking was that it was still focused on 'the product' of what I thought I was supposed to be as a Christian. It is such a relief to find out God has no 'product focus' or agenda with me. His goal isn't to produce some perfect product (and if we are not that, we are thus failures- no!). His focus is simply this: on loving us! That is it! That's His agenda for us - to shower us with grace and love for all eternity!
[When we were mired in a stagnant life of sin,] immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced
us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all
this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us
down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the
next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Eph 2:4-7, The Message
God loves us where we are, as we are, for who we are!!
God loves us where we are. Even if we get distracted and succumb to sin, even if we don't pray or seek Him, even if we forget grace and start thinking we must earn our way with Him, even if we are sometimes judgmental or self-righteous, even if we yell at the kids, get caught in addiction, listen to the devil's lies, lose our focus, lose our ministry, withdraw into ourselves in our pain...Even in the biggest ditch we could dig for ourselves or the deepest hole we could fall into, He is there, He loves us as is, and nothing has changed in our relationship with God - nothing! For this relationship isn't based on how 'well we do' - it is based on how well Jesus did, and He did a work in us that is perfect! A work that took us all the way to the Throne Room of heaven and put us on Daddy's lap with Him! That is what the above verse states, wow! So let's remember that God loves us where we are, and let's remember where we truly are - not in the ditch of sin and poor choices and lies and despair - no! - but in the Palace in Heaven on our Daddy's lap!! Being hugged and loved on forever!
God loves us as we are. We can be bundles of insecurity, confusion, pain, turmoil, doubt, frustration, self-centeredness, envy, self-loathing, and irritability. And even when we act awful, think awful thoughts, feel awful feelings, even when we do the worst thing we could imagine doing, God is there, God loves us, God takes us as we are, accepts us as we are, and makes NO demand for change! Wow! That is powerful to me - I have found Someone who is committed to me, committed to love me and support me and be on my side and even celebrate me, no matter what I do! Nothing I do, say, think or even believe would ever drive Him away. He has committed Himself to this relationship for eternity by placing His Spirit in me to 'abide forever' (that means He isn't going anywhere, no matter how badly I screw up!), and that gives me perfect security that this relationship is forever, and there is no way I can mess it up. God loves me as I am. He takes me as I am, and all of us. He already saw all the stupid things we would do and say and believe, and Jesus already took them away at the cross and made us new. In fact, to say that God loves us as we are REALLY means He sees us for who we really are, even when we don't! He sees the real you - the one He created in Christ Jesus before the world began! - and the real you is awesome! The real you is beautiful, perfect, innocent and pure, strong, good, loving and gently, full of God, kind, sweet, righteous, other-centered, hopeful and faithful, complete, holy and whole, precious and dear! So not only does He loves us when we blow it and mess up, but He also reminds us that is not the 'real us' at all, and that the real us is perfect, just like Jesus, for Jesus is the center and true nature of the real us!
God loves us for who we are! He knows who we are, even if we forget! And He gently reminds us of the truth. He brings us to look at Christ, and suddenly it's like looking in a mirror - we realize that we are in Christ, for God put us there before the world's creation, and since we are in Christ, 'as He is, so are we!' We are in the image and likeness of God, just as Christ is. In fact, Christ is the image of God dwelling in us and actually being our nature. The very fabric of our being, of who we are, is Christ..it is like we were actually formed of God-material, created in Christ! He is the most real fact about us, as Brennan Manning says. So whatever HE is, WE are! We are just as lovely, perfect, good and true as Jesus is. Just as holy, loving, complete and free as Jesus is. And whatever HE has, WE have! We are just as accepted, beloved, cherished and close to the Father as Jesus is. Just as blessed, strong, anointed and secure in the Father as Jesus is! God loves us for who we are! He sees the beautiful new creation He made us in Christ! But He isn't just loving Christ in us, or tolerating us because we have Jesus in the center of our being as our nature and essence - He loves us for US! He loves YOU, He love ME, He thinks each of us is wonderful and amazing..yes, you have Jesus as your nature, yet that is just who YOU are, that is part of who YOU are, wow! It is like a father seeing one of his traits in His child - He doesn't say, oh, I just love you for that trait you have, or even, that's not your trait, it's really mine, it's really me..no! He loves the child for who the child is..He loves to see how the child inherited his traits, yet he sees that those are the CHILD:S very traits and part of his makeup! You bear the family likeness of love and goodness, and that's who you really are! You are loved and celebrated for who you are, for who you are is beautiful!
So when you fail, is God having to put that out of His mind and just think about how He made you good? Actually, He already put all the bad things away and out of His mind for good at the cross. He has never been confused about who you are. He has always seen the good person He made underneath the confusion and struggle and pain. He has always loved His children and simply seen them as His children, seen them through His love for them and not seen them through their performance. No matter how terrible our acts or thoughts may be at any time, we are always His pride and joy. Just like a good parent on earth, our Heavenly Dad loves us no matter what we do or seem to become, no matter what road we wander down, no matter where we seem to end up in this life. As Brennan Manning says, "He has one relentless stance toward us: He loves us." You are covered in love. Bathed in love. Wrapped in love. Held in love. You are held by an unconditional love that has nothing to do with how you perform, whether you improve, or how you measure up. You are loved by a love that you cannot lose, drive away or cause to reject you. You cant fail your way out of His arms! You can't get away from this Love that will not let you go, that loves you where you are, as you are, for who you are! So go ahead and be yourself - the beloved child of God that you are, for who you are is HIS BELOVED, no matter what!