John 3: 16: “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God so loved the world. He didn’t just love the world; He so loved the world. He so loved the world that He (Jesus) would die in our place before He would miss out on an eternal relationship with us. He knew that we would disappoint Him and hurt Him and fail Him, but He still so wanted a relationship with us that He made a way. He knew that there would be many, many people that would reject His gift of love and salvation, but an eternity spent with those who would choose Him was worth the price of dying on the cross. That is some amazing love!
Let me ask you something: If you were to die today or if Jesus came back today, would you be ready? Seriously! This life, as we know it, isn't going to go on forever. And we are not invincible. People die every day, in every kind of way. Are you ready to face eternity, what comes the moment after you take your last breath? Have you figured out who Jesus is and why He matters so much? Because this will be what matters most the moment after you die. And, quite honestly, it's what matters most in this lifetime, too.
Are you ultra-concerned about being a “good Christian” and doing the “right” thing, praying the “right” way, having the “right” attitude, and making the “right” choices?
Do you find yourself desperately following “do and don’t” lists, afraid that you might step out of line?
Are you often afraid that God is going to blast you with a lightning bolt for saying or doing something wrong?
Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells with Him, always afraid of displeasing Him?
Do you feel like no matter how much you strive to please God and do the right thing, you are always letting Him down?
Are you afraid that He really isn’t listening to you or really doesn’t care that much about your “little problems” or aching heart?
Do you hesitate to pray or share your concerns with God because you are afraid of burdening Him? Afraid to have Him waste His time or energy on you, especially when there are greater tragedies and concerns in the world that deserve God’s attention more than you do?
Is it hard for you to share your true feelings, thoughts, fears, and doubts with God because you are afraid of disappointing Him or earning His wrath? So you put on a nice, polished, acceptable, capable, “good Christian” mask?
Are you afraid of needing God? Of truly, desperately needing Him? Relying on Him? (To really need Him is to be really vulnerable. If we let ourselves need someone, we take the risk of getting let down, of being dropped on our faces. And so, many of us don’t risk needing others, even God. We try our best to be self-sufficient and self-reliant, even with God. Which doesn’t work. Eventually we will all find our self-sufficiency tested, in order that we might learn to rely on Him.)
Deep down, do you doubt that God is a good, loving God who really does want the best for you? Do you see Him more as a God who is unfair, harsh, or indifferent?
Have you ever secretly wondered, How could God ever really love me? I’m just . . . me! Messed-up me! Surely, He could never forgive me or want a relationship with me?
Whether or not we admit it, many of us have these kinds of fears. And they hinder our spiritual walks and our relationships with Him, others, and ourselves. So how do we deal with these kinds of spiritual fears?
“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him [Jesus] until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)
Jesus had just gone through that time of testing in the desert. He successfully beat Satan with Scripture and by resisting temptation. He was hungry and probably physically weakened. And I am sure that He would have loved a long rest from Satan’s attacks. Didn’t He earn it, after all? A nice, long rest?
But Satan doesn’t play fair. He doesn’t run off with his tail between his legs and say, “Okay, I give up. You win. I’ll leave You alone now. You are too strong for me.” He simply slinks off to the side, into the shadows, and begins watching for an opportune time.
Until an opportune time.