Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grace and Different Relationships

I have a dear friend (you know who you are) who often hesitates to divulge her life issues with others, feeling they would burden those who hear. I have felt the same way before with people I knew little or with whom I was not entirely comfortable. But as she and I talked, I had such a desire for her not to feel this way- for her to feel at ease and safe, for her to see that I want to know about her life because I care about her.
Then, a comparison came into mind courtesy of my mother that, in turn, taught both my friend and I a lesson about God. 

I related to my friend how my mom and I will have these great late-night talks that begin with a "goodnight" and then go on for over an hour. Most often, these conversations consist of me rambling, jumping from subject to subject, asking for advice and help to figure out my thinking, etc..., etc... I imagine sometimes these talks are a lot to bear for her, especially as they usually contain material for many lengthy conversations bound up into one tangled package. However, I never feel as if I am burdening my mother during these talks because I know she wants to hear and help. She wants to be close to me and to know the goings on of my life. In short- I have no reason to doubt her love for me. Then the realization hit me that I want my friend to feel the same about my love for her. To trust in it and have no reason to doubt it.

Because of my trust in my mom's love, I can approach her with confidence instead of in fear that she would reject me, chastise me, or worse- laugh at me (in a negative way). Is it not in the same way that God desires that I "draw near" him "with true heart and full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:22)? As John reminds us, "There is no fear in love, for perfect love drives out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love" (1 Jn. 4:18). Since "punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds" (Is. 53:5), those who are in Christ are truly perfected before God, and their fears eradicated. So, I need never feel like I am burdening God because there is no greater burden I can put on him than that which he has already born upon the cross. Grace...confidence in justification. The absence of fear. Praise God.

Truly, my love for my friend, though great in my eyes, is very dim in comparison to God's. It will fail her because it is spotted with sin. Yet, because we both are accountable to God to love each other, we still have no reason to doubt each others' love, since God will continually call us back to the standard our LORD has set down for us. "Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law" (Rom. 13:8). Another grace! The ability to love and trust other humans because our greater trust and love is first in God. (Isn't it because of fear that the world teaches we can't trust anyone??? HA! God provides a way out! Amen.)

So to my brothers and sisters- you have my love forever because God will forever be teaching me how to love. ("About brotherly love: you don't need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another" 1 Thes. 4:9). And since I know He is doing the same for you, our "love will cover over a MULTITUDE of sins" (1 Peter 4:8) and we will be able to bear one another's burdens while Jesus provides the strength. What a joy and triumph over the world!

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