Why is it important we know we are loved?

As an extension to my last post, If I had a magic wand and could impart any spiritual gift, what would it be?, I want to share why it is so important to know we are loved.  I believe it is important to know we are loved so we can be effective in bringing His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.  I have seen (and experienced) as a Christian many days, weeks, hours, months, years, decades trying to get "right with God."  At times, there has been an overwhelming fear that salvation would soon be lost if and when I made the "wrong decision," had the wrong theology on a specific mater, etc.  Instead of resting comfortably on His lap with child-like faith and asking, "What's on your heart, Lord?" I was walking around feeling guilty, ashamed and wondering what I had to do to make "penance" for my latest sin.  While I know we may now scoff at the religious tradition of buying penance for sins, I can see why people would do it and I believe that for some this physical act would relieve the guilt.  I guess what I'm saying is that even today people walk around feeling guilt-ridden and having no seemingly way to get rid of the guilt.   But I really believe that this obsession with guilt is a misunderstanding of Jesus and His and the Father's heart towards us.

 It was through Christ’s circumcision, that is, his death, that you were made free from the power of your sinful self. 12 When you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and you were raised up with him through your faith in God’s power that was shown when he raised Christ from the dead. 13 When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross. 

Do you see what the cross did for us? It forgave ALL our sins, it canceled the debt - it has been nailed to the cross, left behind.  But perhaps we metaphorically run back to the cross, tear that piece of paper off and hold it before God saying, "But what about this one?"  However, it doesn't say that the record was resurrected with Jesus. Perhaps the nails on His hands should serve as our reminder that the record was left behind so we can move on.

Hebrews 1 & 2 work through these struggles with us.  We see that the Israelite people were never able to enter God's rest and we are warned that we too do not want to be caught missing out on His rest.  While that passage has made me uncomfortable, as I've struggled with it, I've come to realize that they never wanted to accept God's grace, which is why they were unable to enter His rest.  And as I've seen in my own life and the lives of others, when we are trying to  live for the law, from the law and/or in light of the law, we continue to miss out on the promised rest.

14 Since these children are people with physical bodies, Jesus himself became like them. He did this so that, by dying, he could destroy the one who has the power of death—the devil— 15 and free those who were like slaves all their lives because of their fear of death. 16 Clearly, it is not angels that Jesus helps, but the people who are from Abraham.[b] 17 For this reason Jesus had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way so he could be their merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. Then Jesus could die in their place to take away their sins. 18 And now he can help those who are tempted, because he himself suffered and was tempted.

Understanding that we can confidently come before God's throne of grace in our times of weakness is key, key, key.  So this is just the background information that lays the groundwork for the question, "So what then?"

His Kingdom come, His will be done

(If you really want to work through these concepts with an expert check out Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright

I was struck the other day by Jesus words considering the kingdom:
Luke 17:20-21
Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?”
Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. 21 People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.”

We are the carriers of His kingdom!  Our world and our churches ask, seek and looking and searching for God's kingdom daily and I think they main reason they are missing seeing it is because they are looking in the wrong places.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 
11 This command I give you today is not too hard for you; it is not beyond what you can do. 12 It is not up in heaven. You do not have to ask, “Who will go up to heaven and get it for us so we can obey it and keep it?” 13 It is not on the other side of the sea. You do not have to ask, “Who will go across the sea and get it? Who will tell it to us so we can keep it?” 14 No, the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

NT Wright says in his book, Surprised by Hope:

The method of the kingdom will match the message of the kingdom.  The kingdom will comes as the church, energized by the Spirit, goes out into the world vulnerable, suffering, praising, praying, misunderstood, misjudged, vindicated, celebrating: always - as Paul puts it in one of his letters - bearing in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed.

We need to be captured by God's heart and understand His heart if we want to be reflections of it in the world today:
Psalm 146: 6-9
Who gives justice to those that suffer wrong 
and bread to those who hunger.
The Lord looses those that are bound;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; 
the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land;
he upholds the orphan and widow;
but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.

These are the values we are called to carry.  This is the heart we have the honor and privilege to represent.  His Kingdom is here today, it is within you and you can easily spread and extend it by simple acts of love to anyone who walks in your path today - whether family, friend or foe.  Be confident in His love, beloved.

In Christ,

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