Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Run to Him, Not Away from Him

In preparing for an earlier sermon, I came to understand that real faith will always draw us to God. No matter how badly we have failed God, no matter how dire our circumstances may seem, no matter even how badly other people, especially Christians, treat us, real faith will draw us to God for forgiveness and comfort instead of away from him. Even when Peter did not meet the resurrected Jesus in Galilee (John 21) soon enough, he did not go back to Jerusalem in despair. He did go fishing but then perhaps, being a man of action, it would have been difficult for him just to sit around, while waiting for Jesus. The fact is that he remained in the area where Jesus wanted him to be and was, thus, able to learn for himself that real faith always brings about reconciliation and restoration with God, no matter how badly he had failed Jesus by denying him.

Judas Iscariot, on the other hand, did not have the real faith that Peter had. Matt 27:3, 4 tells us that Judas was filled with remorse after he saw Jesus condemned. Yet he could not bring himself to throw himself down before the mercy of God. Judas was willing to return his ‘blood money’ back to the chief priests and the elders. He was willing to admit he had sinned by betraying an innocent man. He was willing to even go to the extent of taking his own life. Yet all these actions only show that his was a false faith, willing only to resort to his own devices to make things right, instead of availing himself to God’s unfathomable mercy. Peter’s example shows us that genuine faith brings about a repentance which trusts only in the love and compassion of God.

The Bible has many verses that attest over and over again to God’s unbounded faithfulness, compassion and love. However, one of the best promises that make me unashamed to draw near to him is Isa 62:5b, “as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” Parents are thrilled when their children are around, and a groom is thrilled by his beautiful bride’s presence. In the same way, I believe it thrills God to have me around. So then, it is better to be around him rather than be away from him.

Knowing what we know about God then should encourage us to run to and not away from him. We need not have to hide our mistakes and weaknesses. We should go to him without any intention of making him think we are anything other than who we are. After all, he knows us from the inside-out. Thus, we can let God help us deal with our failings. We can therefore deal with them honestly and openly and, in doing so, free ourselves from guilt and shame. We can always come before God’s throne of grace and know that we will find mercy in our time of need and strength to move forward once again. Since God rejoices when we come to him, we can imagine his joy in hearing our petitions and requests. Therefore, as children of a loving heavenly Father, let us not isolate ourselves from him. Rather, let us seek a close connection with him through regular times of prayer, worship and reading his Word.

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