Today's devotion is by Denise Denton, St. Mark's UMC, Raleigh, NC
I grew up going to church every time the doors were open. I heard the Good News – that God loves us so much; that he sent his only Son, Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, in human form to live as us for a time and for a purpose; that he died as the perfect sacrifice for our sin; and that he was raised from the dead and returned to God, where he is preparing a place for us in heaven. I learned that it was only by God’s grace and through my faith in God that Jesus would take my sins away. Me, I confessed my sinfulness and asked Jesus into my heart. I didn’t want to go to hell.
2 Corinthians 6:1 implores us: do not accept the grace of God in vain. Oh my! I think that’s what I was doing when I tucked my “salvation” so neatly on the shelf and went about my life trying not to feel guilty about my sins Jesus had to bear on the cross… I tried to stop sinning, but honestly, it was impossible. I was making his burden worse every day, but I felt pretty sure I wouldn’t go to hell.
What a mess our sin put us all in. There is no one who is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We might become the righteousness of God! What a transformation that should be. That, for some reason, doesn’t compare to my original goal of avoiding hell.
So how do I do this? It still starts with God’s grace and our faith. New paradigm: it’s about God, not me. I confess and am forgiven, and God looks at me and sees the righteousness Christ brought me. As I ponder the Good News that God loves us so much, I rest there and feel God’s love, and naturally, I am learning to love him back. That’s what God wants. He wants us to love him.
As that relationship develops, my love for him makes me want to please him, and naturally, my attitudes and behaviors are going to change because the desires of my heart are changing. I start to see others as God sees them, which makes me love them. I love God and I love you. God does this transformation and God gets the glory.
God, we love you. Help us to love you more, with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and help us to love each other.