2002-07-23 - I Don't Deserve This
Encore from 1999-08-06
Jacob was a con artist and a thief. He didn't deserve it, but God made him one of the Patriarchs of the Jewish faith.
Gen 28:12-15 (NCV) Jacob dreamed that there was a ladder resting on the earth and reaching up into heaven, and he saw angels of God going up and coming down the ladder. Then Jacob saw the Lord standing above the ladder, and he said, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your grandfather, and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are now sleeping. Your descendants will be as many as the dust of the earth. They will spread west and east, north and south, and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. I am with you and will protect you everywhere you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.
Peter denied his Lord, after promising loyalty.
Mat 26: 74-75 (NCV) Then Peter began to place a curse on himself and swear, "I don't know the man." At once, a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: "Before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you don't know me." Then Peter went outside and cried painfully.
He didn't deserve it, but Jesus made him a leader of the early church.
We don't deserve God's lavish love, but 2000 years ago He made an unthinkable sacrifice for us. He sent His Son to die for us and allowed Him to feel forsaken by His Father, so that our sins won't prevent us from spending eternity with God. The Bible is replete with examples of God's undeserved love and mercy for us. For more examples, see Matthew 20:1-16, Hosea 2:13-23, Luke 15:11-24.
I believe one reason we often have a hard time grasping God's incredible love and grace for us, is that we -- especially those of us in America -- have a difficult time believing that anything can be unconditional or free. As my minister once stated in a sermon, we believe "you can't get something for nothing." But you can.
Rom. 5:18 (ASV) So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life.
According to The New Bible Dictionary, the word "free" here is doµrea, and it means "bounty." God bountifully gives us what we do not deserve. Sometimes we think we have to "do" something to earn it. Maybe we have to be at church every time the doors are open. Perhaps we have to be "perfect" emotionally -- never get angry, never be sad, be stoic all the time. (And never mind the fact that Christ Himself showed "negative" emotions like righteous anger and sadness!) Maybe we think we have to be the best in everything we do. Or maybe we feel we can never make a mistake. But simply by being human, we are defaulted into making mistakes.
Rom 3:10 (NIV) As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one.
There is no way possible we can ever deserve God's love or our salvation, no matter what we do, or don't do. No one, no matter how "good," deserves God love, not even the Mother Teresas of the world, not even the Apostle Paul (See Rom. 7:22-25.) But that's the point, isn't it? That's the simple beauty of it. This is something different than we are used to. This is something we get simply because our Father loves us deeply and wants us to live eternally in His presence. All we have to do is accept His love, accept His Son's sacrifice on the cross for our sins.
John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
So what should be our response? We should celebrate the fact that we don't have to worry about "deserving" His love. We should look around us and find the evidence every day, of his undeserved love -- in the trusting love of a child, the second chance, the unconditional love of family members and friends, a world of exquisite beauty. For example, He could have made all birds look alike, but He blessed us with indigo ones, scarlet ones, tangerine ones! We should relax in His undeserved love, in the security of knowing that no matter what we have done or left undone, He will love us just as much. And we should live our lives in grateful service to Him.
Dear Lord, please help us to realize the incredible gifts You have given us in the last 2002 years, and that You and continue to give us every day. And help us to show You our appreciation.