In today’s world believers need strength, perhaps more than ever before. I was thrilled by the challenge a pastor gave recently. It actually strengthened me in my resolve to share my Lord Jesus with the world! It was a simple statement really. Speaking about man made in God’s image, he reminded us that “You are important to God”. There it is – the gospel in a nutshell. If we ever needed an introductory statement, doesn’t that say it all?
Here’s the thing – your relationship with God, and mine, is founded upon a love beyond anything we can experience here between friends and family. We all disappoint one another, but God – never! Oh sometimes He has to rebuke us, which He gently does through the indwelling Holy Spirit, but if we are honest, in our heart of hearts we know more than rebuke is deserved. Rebuke is very different from condemnation because it gives us opportunity to repent….and God, Himself, gives us the strength to face the realities of conviction. He longs for fellowship with each of us because we are important to God.
Christianity is based on relationship, for that very reason. It is not just another religious ideology, but it an actual relationship with the one and only personal God, in whose image we are made. The joy this generates, gives us holy boldness to share the good news with others!
So what do we do with this information? How do we live out the gospel? Do we impose rules and regulations on others, standards that seem impossible to meet? Does God do that with us? For example I was brought up to believe that Christians do not smoke, so when I discovered a picture of my great grandfather holding a cigar, I was shocked – disappointed! Why, when I knew he regularly held church in his home during his 72-year marriage to my great grandma, would I allow something like that to colour my esteem of this dear grandpa? How quick we are to judge based on human standards!
The Pharisees spent a lot of time condemning folks who didn’t measure up to their ideology. Did they forget that every person, made in the image of God is “important to God”? Certainly they judged folks on outward appearances, something which Jesus Christ frequently challenged. In our scripture verse, Isaiah cautioned the Israelites not to be afraid, adding magnificent promises that God Himself is with them, as He is with those who believe and receive Him today. Furthermore “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Our strength doesn’t come from how we behave, but derives from His righteousness! Of course how we live reflects on what we say we believe about God. Does our lifestyle bring glory to His holy name?
God inspired Isaiah to record a picture of his own journey with God. “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me with a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Can you relate to that? Do others understand the joy that being “important to God” brings you?
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)