I once heard Pastor Ty Gibson gave a perfect illustration of a young woman named Linda. She has wanted to get married her entire life, she has dreamt about her wedding day since she was still in braids. When she finally met Herman, she thought her life was complete. They got married, and on the morning of their honeymoon, at 5 in the morning, Herman got up and had a piece of paper in his hands. On it was a list of tasks that Linda was to perform as an obedient wife. Every minute of the day was written out for her.
6:00 - wakeup and turn on the shower for Herman 6:32 - wake up Herman with a kiss 7:30 - make breakfast for Herman (menu attached) 8:15 - Wait for Herman by the door with appropriate jacket, kiss Hermon goodbye. 8:30 - Free time 8:35 - House hold chores etc etc
Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months into years. And years went by and Linda was unhappy, but she followed what she needed to do as a dutiful wife. And then, one day the unexpected happened, Herman suddenly fell ill and died. Relief flooded Linda, and she swore that she'd never marry again. But a couple of years later, she met a wonderful gentleman named Micheal, who was everything she wanted in a man. They dated for a time, Michael proposed and promised her a happy life. After much hesitation, she finally agreed to marry him.
She also decided to take karate lessons though.
On the morning of their honeymoon, Linda woke up at 5am in a panic when she saw Micheal on the side of the bed with a piece of paper in his hands. She jumped out of bed, karate stance, tore the paper out of his hands and ripped it up, saying "I will not do those things that you're forcing me to do!"
Micheal, looking bewildered, said to her "But, Linda, I just wanted to sing you the love song I've written for you all night long...". Relief, and embarrassment, crossed Linda's face, and she realized that Micheal was not Herman, that he expected no such things from her. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years, and many years later Linda realized that she was, well, happy.
One day she was going through some of her old things, and she came across a box full of the lists of tasks Herman wrote to her everyday. Absently, she looked through some of them, and it dawned upon her that she was doing many of the exact things on those lists, but for Micheal. And yet, without him even asking her to. A sudden realization crossed her face. She realized that it wasn't out of a sense of duty or obligation or force, but that it all came from her heart, willingly. Out of love. This is what God wants from us. He draws us in with his lovingkindness, and asks us to love him back willingly.
He came not just to live a perfect life as an example to us all; He came also to die the death that we deserve so that His perfect life can be credited to us as our own.
This concept is truly amazing to me. Once again, I am brought deeper into an understanding of what Christ has done for us on the Cross. 1 John 2:6 says "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." When I read this passage before, I would feel guilty and shameful that I am not walking as Jesus walked. I felt like a terrible Christian. At times I thought how much easier it would be to just be an atheist again, being a Christian is just too hard. I am expected to do all these things, and yet I had no power to do so. To overcome my own sinful self.
"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God,
and they will be my people." Jeremiah 31:33 If any law could save a sinner, it would be God’s, but even that law can’t save us. Only the perfect life of our perfect Example, Jesus, could save us, and so Christ came to offer Himself as “one sacrifice for sins forever”. He showed us God's love for us. This is what it means to have the assurance for our future. That even though I am not perfect, that I still make mistakes, I should not allow my feelings of shame and guilt to separate myself from God. But believe that Jesus has died and paid the penalties for all my sins and I should therefore get up once again and strive onward. 1 John 5:11–13: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Before, at times when I was reading the Bible or EGW, I would feel so negative and condemned, in fact, I really disliked reading some of the passages that especially made me feel guilty. Whereas now, even though I am not perfect, when I read them I see it in a new light. God doesn't want to condemn us for condemnation's sake, like a loving Father, he wants us to be perfect and to have righteous desires in our hearts all because it is a good thing, moving us towards him and his love, as he longs to spend eternity with us.
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." - John 17:3 -
More so than ever, this verse makes more and more sense to me now. To know God, is to love God. Because once we truly come to know Him, we cannot help but fall in love with him.