Friday, August 18, 2017

Restoring Relationships With God

Recently, at the beginning of the new church year, we re-defined the mission and purpose of Celebration Place. It was a decision based on the direction we felt God was leading in and it spoke to the greatest needs of our modern age.

It is apparent, from even a cursory observation that human beings are hard-wired to be relational. Probably all of us can think of relationships that comfort, encourage, and provide support. At the same time we can all think of relationships that are definitely TOXIC! Relationships that we avoid like a plague! But, nonetheless, we have and are in, relationships from the day we’re born. And they are important.

I remember reading that the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, told his lawyer he preferred the death penalty to the chance of life imprisonment in the federal lock-up known as “Super-Max.” What was it about Super-Max that made death preferable? This is the newest facility in the US penal system and is generally considered to be the most inhumane ever built. Why? Are the prisoners regularly abused? Are the inmates forced to do hard labor? Are the cells lacking in any creature comforts? Well, no. The factor that makes this prison so tough is that every prisoner there is essentially in solitary confinement for the duration of their sentence.

They never see another human being. For twenty three hours a day they are restricted to their cell. No TV, no radio, no conversation. For one hour a day they are allowed out of the cell into a yard with high walls and no windows where they can only look up to the sky. No one is there, no one speaks to them. They are totally alone. No relationships. Even bad ones!

In the beginning, the Bible tells us, we were made in the “image” of God. No other part of God’s creation could claim that distinction. It is uniquely human characteristic. And why did God create humans that way? So He could have a relationship with us! In fact, the relationship with God is the basis for all other relationships. Unfortunately, that initial relationship was destroyed by the first couple’s disobedience. The first sin was simple rebellion. Unfortunately, that rebellious streak now runs through the entire human race.

The Bible tells us that, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Because of that rebellion, all our relationships have been affected negatively. They are the cause of much joy and happiness and grief and sorrow in life. All of us can probably testify to the fact that the best and worst part of our lives have usually been the result of a relationship.

So, how do we repair that relationship with God? Is there any hope for us? Is the gulf to wide to span, the guilt too deep to fill? Well, there is good news, indeed! God had a plan to utterly redeem all His creation and mankind in particular. The sacrifice for our rebellion, in fact, for the rebellion of the entire race, was Jesus of Nazareth. The punishment for our sins was laid on Him. The prophet Isaiah said it like this, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isa 53:6)

So, Jesus restores us to the relationship with God the Father we were created to enjoy. There is no other way, He is the final answer to the problem of sin separating humans from their Creator. The Apostle Paul made it clear in Romans 10:9 when he said, “… if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” And just like that, your relationship with God has been healed! You are now adopted into His family. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13

God has spared no expense to bring you back to Him. The decision now is yours. Will you accept His offer of grace or will you choose to reject the sacrifice that has been paid for you and continue in rebellion, without a relationship with the One who created you?

Pastor Ray

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