, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More than 20 years ago after having left the Christian cult we were in, I felt that God was not half as judgmental as it had been suggested there in that missionary congregation. My own experiences with God and Jesus made me think that HE was quite the opposite of what I had heard back then. It would seem to me that God’s grace revealed in Christ did not judge anyone at all. From hence, for quite some time I was convinced that God was love, and only love. However, what about all this evil in the world and what about evil people? No judgment? No condemnation? Only forgiveness for everyone without any consequences? So many questions which I, sooner or later, could not ignore any longer…

Nonetheless, over the years afterwards when God had been withdrawing His presence from me again and again, I started out to search other possible ways that might lead to God. I would question Jesus as the only way to God and I would question the Bible, especially the Old Testament with all its cruel descriptions since I could no longer imagine that this could have really been God’s doing. Therefore, I did not read the Bible any longer. In fact, I COULD not read it as countless Bible verses had taken on a twisted significance for me and I hated rereading these Scriptures because they triggered several pains experienced in the cult.

On my long way of searching for the truth, I asked God’s forgiveness beforehand as I was looking for some grain of truth everywhere but in the Bible. However, I also asked Him to show me the way where I could find the truth/enlightenment/God/deliverance – whatever. A strange prayer, indeed, but God heard it, though not immediately as it is often the case with Him. It was about eight years later that Jesus slowly came back into my life. His light began to shine dimly and thus I knew I saw some truth again. How so? I do not really know… but I believe it is called faith when you all of a sudden KNOW, “This is the Truth!” Nobody told you or tried to convince you, yet you know it anyway. From that day on I began to devour the Bible again and again. I also delved into the depths of the Old Testament that I had avoided before. I saw God’s love there as well as in the New Testament, in God’s only Son Jesus Christ. However, God also let me feel His Holiness and His Righteousness through the fear of Him so that I ‘knew’ again that God despite His longsuffering love always judges sin. But as we as weak human beings with our old nature cannot but sin, He made a path to redeem us.

It was God Himself who became a man who walked the earth in the likeness of our flesh, yet without any sin. Jesus Christ, our Lord, was crucified for the sin of the whole world so that every human being could get access to the love of God, i.e., through faith in Christ alone “[f]or everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13 ESV). If God had not cared about sin at all, why would He have created a path to redeem us? To deliver us from what?  🙄 So, just in case we have been wondering about how to deal with sin, we should not forget that following Jesus through His grace bestowed on us is ALL about setting us free – from sin, from our soulish nature with its old habits and from our darkened thought life so that we are (being) conformed to the image of God – in Christ. If we ever ask ourselves whether God might be rather violent or soft, more cruel or rather tender, the answer has been given to us as

“He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Col 1:15 ESV)

He is our judge; He forgives us as we approach Him in humility. But God opposes the proud and those who claim to know better than Him how to deal with sin. If someone calls himself a Christian but refuses to obey Christ and His commandments, dear reader, please run! These spirits are dangerous! It always begins with a tiny doubt. “Hath God really said?” – “Is the Bible actually God’s Word?” – “The writers of the Bible were only human beings, like you and me ….so, maybe they listened imperfectly/wrongly to God’s inspiration….?” – “Times have changed, we cannot live like these guys almost 2000 years ago anymore” – maybe this…. maybe that….. Satan has been a liar from the beginning and his insinuations are so very subtle. If we grant him repeated access to our minds and trust such and similar thoughts, the devil also offers us some good feelings to affirm his lies. But the end of submitting to his lies should be clear as well. The one who does not obey Christ, will not experience eternal life as

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (Jn 3:36 ESV)

Jesus Himself told us clearly,

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” (Jn 14:23-24 ESV)

But what might happen if we do not love, that is obey, Christ by following His lead through the Holy Spirit? The author of Hebrews gives us this warning,

“For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:30-31 ESV)

as the Apostle Peter confirmed,

“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Pt 4:17-18 ESV)

After these severe warnings to not take God’s word lightly, I want to conclude with these comforting words from the Apostle John who said,

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 Jn 5:3 ESV)

May our Lord help us to do His will. Amen.

All images © Susanne Schuberth 2020