This is how the Psalmist describes what our God is like; “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” [Psalm 145:8,9]
If you are part of a growing number of Christians who are leaving the organised church there is a price to pay. For some it will be higher than for others. It may be the simple question, “Where do you fellowship?” or “what church doyou go to?” that triggers guilt and that horrible feeling that you are not quite living up to the set standard. There is life beyond the borders of human expectation.
You may feel that the people who were calling you to come to the meetings are no longer doing so and because of that loneliness sets in alongside the weight of guilt you already feel!
The very sad part of this story is that there are some who do not survive the burdens placed on them to be more committed to the ‘vision’ or group. We have spoken and met with some who have similar stories. Rejected, isolated and disillusioned with everything relating to church and this god they have tried so hard to please but without success. They have invested years of their lives in this process only to end up suffering with burn out! These believers have lost their freshness in Jesus and their desire to press on, mostly because they have been trying to shoulder the weight of “doing for God” rather than knowing the freedom of embracing what God has already done for us in Jesus.
The scars of ‘religious obligation’ run deep within the soul and can rear their ugly head at any time. But, there is great hope!
HEALING AND FREEDOM
We are convinced that there is healing and freedom for all those who call upon the name of Jesus. There is healing and encouragement for those who are bowed down and hurting, those who are vulnerable and in need of a fresh touch from Jesus. For those whose lives have been scarred in any way by the “religion of the Pharisees” there is a way beyond these restricting borders.
I would like to encourage you about your need to experience the Shepherd’s care.
“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” [Matt. 9:36]
Jesus knows and understands exactly what is going on inside of us including the disappointments, brokenness, reactions, fears and sorrows. He also knows our delights, joys and our loves!
We read of the wonder of Jesus’ compassion upon those people He met throughout His journeys. In John we see a woman ‘caught in adultery’ fearing for her life, the Samaritan woman at the well with a history of failed relationships and those weeping along the road to Calvary who all experience the compassion of Jesus. This word compassion is usually translated ‘moved with compassion’ because it is a strong inward emotion.
Henri Nouwen puts it like this;
“To us who cry out from the depths of our brokenness for a hand that will touch us, an arm that can embrace us, lips that will kiss us, a word that will speak to us here and now, and a heart that is not afraid of our fears and tremblings; to us who feel our own pain as no other human being feels it, has felt it, or ever will feel it and who are always waiting for someone who dares to come close – to us has come a man who can truly say, “I am with you.” Jesus Christ is God with us and our every human pain reverberates in his innermost self.” [Compassion, a reflection on the Christian Life]
How comforting to know that Jesus has compassion on us when we most need it. He understands our fear of loneliness and the need to be wanted. Let us allow Him into our lives! When we first met with Jesus and knew the joy of sin forgiven, the sure hope within us of an amazing God who loves and accepts us just as we are, we were delighted with life and knew such deep peace and joy within. Over the years a hard crust may have formed over the once tender heart and He wants to soften it once again. Allow Him!
The point of being made aware of taking a step in your life to break with ‘the religion of the Pharisees’ was and is to have a heart fully toward God. To cultivate intimacy with Him and to follow Jesus along the path called humility.
CALLED TO INTIMACY
Have you noticed how easily some will talk and pray as though God is far away? They talk and pray as though God does not know what is happening and that He is surprised by our apparent announcement. Yet, openness and honesty with God is the start of the healing and process of restoration. I love the thought that Father loves to hear from me. I enjoy knowing that when I express my love to Him throughout the day He delights in that.
If one of my children says to me, “Dad, I love you!” I will normally respond to them by saying, “I love you too!” I was recently made aware of the same interaction with my heavenly Father. “I love you Father!” and the response is always, “Yes, and I love you too!”
Our Father delights in responding to us. He desires intimacy with us and the only way this can take place is when we let go of the ‘stuff of religion’ and open our hearts wide open to His grace. It is for each and every one of us.
LOCKED INTO YESTERDAY!
All that must be done for you and I to live in perfect union with God today has already been accomplished by Jesus in his death and resurrection. There is nothing left to do. No extras or additions. The heart of the Christian life is to stand confidently before God and say, “Thank you!” [Romans 12:1,2 The Message]
He has set us free to be free in every aspect of our lives. We do not need to be locked into the past because He is our present life now and forever. This attitude of heart is not through our striving to be better people or pretending everything is fine but simply and honestly opening our hearts to our Father who loves us more than we know. Go for it!