Getting Right With God
Getting right with God. What does that mean? How do we accomplish such a feat? Is it a concern only for religious people? Who cares?
My observation, broadly speaking, is that there are three groups of people when it comes to the subject of how to have a right relationship with God. There are those who just don't care and it's a subject that seems to have little, if any, meaning to them. After all, they argue, do we really know He exists? And if He does, what can we know about Him? Or what difference does it really make? Or, they just don't care. Period.
Then there are those who think they have it figured out and don't see the need to continue to think about what they believe. This group generally believes in God (whoever He may be) and think they are going to heaven (however they define it) because they think they're living up to some code or standard (or there is no code or standard). They believe everything will work out and when the balances are weighed all will be well. All in all, they say, they're living ok lives and certainly God will forgive them of any "indiscretions" when the time comes. And when you ask them for the basis of their views, you'll quickly find they are based on their own thoughts, or some philosopher, or even some religious beliefs. But not on what God says.
Then there are those who really want to know how to get right with God. They realize there is an inherent value to the subject and they want to know the answer. They want to know how to accomplish such a feat and they hope to go beyond the basics and maybe even live in an on-going relationship with Him. These people see that their own views or the views of others don't carry much weight. God Himself must be the source of that information. After all, you don't try to restore a relationship with someone without their involvement, do you?
So, which group are you in? Let me be quick to point out that most of us have been in at least the first two groups at some point in our lives. Hopefully, now or some time in the future, you will be in the third and this little letter will be of help as you realize the importance of the question and seek answers.
Now, you will ask, where is this source of knowledge? How can I really know what God's thinking? Can I really know not only where I stand with Him now and, if I am doomed, must I remain that way or can I be reconciled to Him? Has He spoken?
Indeed He has. In the Christian Bible He has recorded what is necessary for us to know about Him and ourselves in relation to Him. It's not the purpose of this letter to defend my position that the Bible is His written word to us and so for the moment I ask you to only listen and see if what I say makes sense.
We start on a negative note. Sin is not some indiscretion; rather, it is a violation of His commands and standard. God has laid down the standard - perfection - and we all fail at it 1. We've been declared guilty and the penalty is separation from God, which results in death and hell. I don't think too many of you will argue with me that you fail at perfection. Even apart from His 10 Commandments we all agree that at times we lie, cheat, steal, hate, and too often would prefer to hide in the dark. No one seriously says they're perfect. Instead, we joyfully, and with a smug attitude, quote the old adages, "To err is human…" and "no one is perfect."
But God still says we're to be perfect and those who fail the perfection test will be eternally punished and have no hope of ever knowing Him. You see, it's not just that we're sinners, it's we're sinners against a holy and perfect God. He demands His righteousness in us and without it we're subject to His wrath and hell 2.
But you already know this at some level, don't you. You know that all is not right. You know that you are due some form of punishment for the kind of person you are and the wrong things you do that spring from within you.
Now here is the heart of it. Here is the hope. Here is the only "how." Here is where Christianity parts company with other religious and philosophical views. On our own, we humans will never be able to get right with this holy, perfect, righteous, angry (but at times merciful) God. But in His mercy and love beyond measure, He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ to live the perfect life and to pay the punishment we so rightly deserve 3. Yes, Jesus came, died, and then rose from the dead to prove it. God's anger is appeased and now the way is available for humans to get right with God and to know Him in a loving relationship that far exceeds any we have ever dreamed.
But this way is not some blanket over all of humanity. No, it is available only to those who will believe what God has declared and Jesus has lived. No longer are we to believe that we can get right with Him by our own supposedly good works and actions 4. No longer need we hope against hope that when we die He will weigh it all in a balance and the scale will tip in our favor.
No, you must humbly come before God and ask forgiveness, cleansing, and reconciliation, placing full trust in His own gift and satisfaction of punishment - Jesus Christ. He is the only reason God will forgive and allow you to get right with Him. And so I ask this of you: do you want to get right with God? Then admit your sinfulness and ask for reconciliation with Him based on the life and work of Jesus on the cross. He has promised to answer those who truly believe 5.
Is this then all there is to getting right with God? Absolutely not! This is only the beginning but this little letter is only meant to introduce you to that beginning. More could be said about overcoming sin in our lives, talking with God, listening to God, the Christian family, future things, and oh so much more.
If you would like to talk more, feel free to email me and I'll be happy to help in whatever way I can.
1 Jesus Himself says "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." in Matthew 5:48 (NIV)
2 Paul repeats an often repeated thought "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed" in Romans 2:5 (NIV)
3 Paul tells us "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" in Romans 5:8 and Peter agrees when he write "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" in 1 Peter 3:18.
4 Ephesians 2:8 and 9 tells us "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast." (NIV)
5 Jesus Himself gives us this assurance when He says "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away" in John 6:37