You don’t have to clean up the mess of your life before you come. Jesus’ primary message and Chi Alpha echoes it, is life gets messy but He loves you.
We need to clear the stage, not of the mess, but for God’s acceptance.
We live in the middle of the mess. Our lives are not polished and shiny and set up on a mantle. They are cluttered and complicated. We get tired and frustrated. This is where most everyone lives, and if the reality of Jesus doesn’t land on us here, in the mess of the everyday, then we’ll spend our days oblivious to its wonder. We don’t need to spend our lives trying to escape the mess. We need Jesus right here and right now. You don’t have to clean up before you come.
I once thought that being a Christian meant having all the answers, with all of my proverbial ducks in a row, all neat and orderly-like. Then “life” happened, and it was anything but tidy. Downright “messy” would be a better description. These days I find myself looking for God in the mess, rather than asking God to wave some magic wand and, voila, make it all disappear.
Sometimes what holds us back is …..
That we feel like we don’t have anything to give. We don’t have a talent or skill to offer. We can’t play guitar like Leeanna, or paint like Luke. We don’t have bible knowledge or church experience. We don’t look or act the same way as the other people in the room.
God says it’s not about equal. It’s not about having equal gifts. It’s about equal sacrifice.
It’s about you, evaluating you, and asking God where it is in your own life he is working. Its about you giving as much as you can give, to all of your ability, as God shapes and molds you into who He wants you to be. Like we talked last week, we’ve got to quit comparing ourselves to each other.
In Mark 12 people were passing an offering plate at the temple. Many rich people threw in large amounts. A poor widow threw in two small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
It’s not about equal gifts, it’s about equal sacrifice.
Sometimes what holds us back is….
We don’t feel God. We try and try and do everything they say to do. But we just don’t feel him. We can’t understand why crappy things happen and why we are seemingly always getting the short end of the stick.
Maybe we have been through a really difficult season or experience and we can’t make sense of it. Maybe we live in the middle of a giant mess we can’t control and its exhausting.
Sometimes God feels strangely silent.
I think of Agnes. From the time she was a young girl, Agnes believed. Not just believed, she was on fire. She knew Jesus was with her and had an undeniable sense of him calling her. She left her home, became a missionary, gave him everything.
And then God left her.
At least, that is how it felt to her. Where is my faith? Deep down all she felt was emptiness and darkness.
On the outside she worked, she served, she smiled. But the inner darkness and pain over her absence of God continued on, year after year. Such was the secret pain of Agnes, who is better known as Mother Theresa.
She journaled about these feelings but requested they all be destroyed as she was dying. However some have still been found. Her willingness to persist in the face of such agonizing doubts has brought comfort and strength to people that an inner life of ease and certainty never could. In her life she was a servant to the poor, in her death a missionary to those who don’t feel God.
She said feeling God isn’t the primary evidence that God exists. Jesus himself said by your fruit, not your certainty, you will know He is present. Mother Theresa also reminded us that pain can be redemptive. Jesus himself had to experience the agony of the absence of God. On the cross, he cried out “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” As Jesus suffering was redemptive to us, Mother Theresa could suffer redemptively by holding on to God in the midst of the darkness.
Psalm 23 says even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
If you can’t feel God, don’t let go. Just keep holding on. Even if it’s by a thread. Just don’t let go. That pain can be the very thing that gets you through.
Clear the stage for God’s acceptance.
Lastly, sometimes what holds us back is….
Is the pressure of law keeping. It’s this idea that Ill never live up to all the expectations so just forget it. We think to ourselves I don’t even understand or agree with some of things in the Bible. People tell me I’m wrong about things that don’t seem wrong at all. We get judged and condemned and we run.
When the prodigal son in the scripture trudges back home he is thinking all of these same things.
Yet the dad embraces the mud-layered boy as if he were a returning war hero. He commands the servants to bring a robe, ring, and sandals to throw a party!
Big brother meanwhile stands on the porch and sulks. “No one ever gave me a party,” he mumbles, arms crossed.
The father tries to explain, but the jealous son won’t listen. He huffs and shrugs and grumbles something about cheap grace, saddles his high horse, and rides off.
Thanks to some legalistic big brothers, we can go from grace receiving to law keeping.
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.… (Gal. 1:6-7)
All of this law keeping and rule following without a balance of love from Jesus results in grace blockage. We think the Father might let you in the gate, but you have to earn your place at the table. We start believing God makes the down payment on your redemption, but you pay the monthly installments.
Your deeds don’t save you. And your deeds don’t keep you saved. Grace does.
I know you might not have it all figured it out yet. You might not even agree with it all. That’s ok. Those doubts and thoughts don’t make Jesus love you any less.
Our Saviour kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, ‘I can clean that if you want.’ And from the basin of his grace, he scoops a palm full of mercy and washes our sin.
For thousands of years God has given people the choice of living lives of ruin, or possess what he has secured for them. And it has always involved battles. When he led the Israelites out of Egypt toward the Promised land they had to fight many battles and learn numerous lessons before they could possess the land.
Some days we eat the bear, some days the bear eats us.
But Jesus’ message is to clear the stage not of the mess, but for his grace, for his acceptance.
In that grace and acceptance we will work out our healing, we will work out our image so it reflects His. There will be growth, there will be darkness, there will be battles. But Christ beckons…
Come just as you are
Hear the Spirit Call
Come just as you are
Come and See
Come and live forever