If you have ever done any evangelizing or have ever spoken to anyone anywhere about Jesus Christ you know there is a certain rhythm these conversations take on:
"Do you go to church?"
"I used too."
"Do you know Jesus?"
"Yes, I pray once in a while."
"Do you know where you will spend eternity."
"Oh, I am a good person. I have never done any harm to anyone. I live a good life."
After two thousand years we are still not effective in getting people to understand that what God has done for us has nothing to do with what we have done or what we deserve. But even those who do understand about salvation do not understand that this continues to be true in every aspect of our relationship with God; even when we get in trouble.
Plain and simple: because God loves us he has saved us. It has nothing to do with whether we live a good life, do good things or never hurt a person. In reality, we are all sinners and deserve eternal punishment. God in his love has paid a high price personally for us so that, if we choose to be, we can be rescued from our destruction. But it is because of his love for us that he has given us mercy, not anything we have done to deserve it. We don't deserve it but he has given it.
This also applies to us after salvation, when we neglect him or when we slip up and sin, or when we fail to act maturely. We don't deserve mercy but because of his love he gives us mercy and grace. I want to share one verse in the Bible that is repeated many times that has changed me so that I am able to remain in Jesus' peace at all times:
Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love. (Psalm 6:4)
How many times have we called out to be delivered from something in our lives? How many times have we tried to bargain with our God?
"Lord, I have obeyed you and followed your commands." "Lord I have served you faithfully and at great personal cost." "Lord, I have given up everything to follow you." "Lord, I could have been ________ but instead I heard your voice and followed you."
What? Is God suppose to feel grateful for what we have done for him? Is he suppose to appreciate our sacrifices? Hardly. Consider this:
I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird in the mountains,
and the creatures of the field are mine.
If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it. (Psalm 50:9-12)
Our God does not need our sacrifice or anything else from us. He is not dependent on us for anything. We cannot do a thing for him that he can't do for himself. Mind you, he does take great pleasure in our obedience but it is in the same order as a parent delighting in an obedient child. Our God has invited us to join him in his mission but it is like a father asking his five year old to help him mow the lawn. It is more for the relationship than for anything we can contribute. Yet, in this same psalm we read:
Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me. (Psalm 50:14-15)
It is the relationship that God wants and in the context of that relationship he has given us promises; promises that are based on his love for us. One of these promises is that he will save us, rescue us, deliver us because of his unfailing love. Not because of anything we have done but because of his unfailing love. I really appreciate the emphasis on the "unfailing" part. We may fail God but he will never, and I mean never, fail us. He tells us to call on him in the day of trouble and he will deliver us because of his unfailing love.
We do not need to bargain with Jesus. We do not need to try to manipulate him or butter him up. We do not need to make wild promises to try to provoke him into action. If we do these things we are acting more like a stranger than as family. No, all we need to do is check our heart to make sure we are in a proper relationship with Jesus Christ, call out to him for help and then witness his hand of deliverance. It's the relationship that is important because the promises have been given to his children. He will rescue you as any good earthly father would pay whatever cost to rescue his child. Not because that child is wonderfully perfect and obedient but because he is his father's child.
As you go to worship today, cast your burdens upon the Lord and take delight in the relationship you have with him. Sing, shout, dance, laugh, rejoice because God is good all the time, faithful in all that he is. Whatever you need to be rescued from, big or small; whatever form of deliverance you need; whatever needs to be done or fulfilled in your life, you can have confidence that it will be done because of God's unfailing love for you.