My heart has been grieving lately.
Many of the people that I grew up with as a child have given themselves over to dishonorable passions (Romans 1:26). These friends were sitting in the presence of God in church, but now God’s presence doesn’t seem to be inside of them. God’s word says that we will know them by their fruit, and the fruit I’m seeing is rotten.
And sadly, a part of me wonders if God has given my friends up to their evil passions and ambitions.
God gave them up. These four words should scare us. If there is anything that would cause me to weep, wail and knash my teeth, it’d be hearing these four words pertaining to my life.
Without God I have nothing.
Christ followers all over the earth would have nothing without Christ. That is why we celebrate Christmas.
The widow in Ghana who has been abused, misused, and and accused would have no hope that this world is not her home. The slave in Libya would have no hope for justice against the atrocities carried out against their very being. The man in America who has been falsely accused and sentenced to life in prison would have no peace that Christ is coming to rectify his situation. The orphan would never have a Father. Without God there would be no hope.
When God gives us up to our evil desires, What happens in our heart, our spirit, our life?
I’ve been reading the New Testament book of Romans this month, and it has been heavy, to say the least. The last 10 verses of the first chapter of Romans discusses how humankind has:
“exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man [..]” (Romans 1:23).
We are continuously exchanging God for other things. It’s almost like we think God is expendable. Like God is a napkin which we can pick up, use, and throw away at our convenience. However, we don’t serve a convenience God. We serve an Almighty God. If He was able to be manipulated by us… He wouldn’t be Almighty.
This is the living God who never gets old, He never sleeps nor slumbers, He is always with us and He will never leave us nor forsake us. God is with His people even when His people go astray. And we think He is expendable?
Romans says that God:
“gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie [..]” (Romans 1:24-25).
These verses show us that God gives us the freedom to choose Him. Yet, in the passage it says people exchange Him, for a lie. This makes me cringe. How could we betray the God of the universe in such explicit ways?
Yet we are still exchanging God for the things of the world.
We are still choosing our evil lusts, passions, and selfishness over a loving God. We are still choosing xmas gifts over the gift of Christ.
So, God gives us up… to our passions. If our passions are not for Him, He patiently allows us to follow those lusts. But the entire time He is patiently waiting for us to turn back (repent) and choose Him (Romans 2:4). Honestly, it’s not that He gives us up. It’s that we give Him up and exchange Him for our evil desires. Claiming to be wise we become fools (Romans 1:22) and slaves to our lust. God doesn’t walk away from us, He also doesn’t force us to choose Him.
He allows us to walk away, hoping that in His patience and forbearance we will ultimately realize our futile ways and turn back to Him. God loves us unconditionally, just like a parent with a wayward child. He is not pleased by our sin but he graciously bears with it so that we will repent.
At this time of year we like to reflect on the baby Jesus. As we reflect, let’s remember why he gave us Jesus.
Let’s reflect on the reality that God has been desiring us since we separated ourselves from Him in the Garden of Eden.
El Shaddai has been longing for us since he told Noah to build the ark. God has been yearning for us since calling Abraham into the unknown, to a land which God had prepared for him.
God has been trying to communicate His love for us since making His promise to Abraham, and opening a 90 year old barren woman’s womb.
Jehovah has been writing a love letter to us since Isaac married Rebekah, and Jacob married Rachel.
Adonai been yearning for us to choose to love Him since Joseph was sold into slavery, and rose to power to save God’s people in Egypt. God has been writing this love story since Moses brought the Israelites out of 400 hundred and thirty years of slavery.
Yahweh loved us even when His people fashioned idols for themselves during their forty years in the wilderness. God has been trying to communicate His love to us since the Judges ruled Israel. He’s loved us even when we asked for kings and rulers to lead us. He’s loved us through hundreds of years of prophets. He loved us through 400 years of silent waiting for the culmination of His[story].
And the fulfillment of his love happened when He sent a baby born humbly, in a manger in Bethlehem. There was no room for that baby. Yet, He was the saviour of the world. God humbled himself, and came down in the garb of a human flesh just to say, “I love you. I want to be reconciled with you.”
Now, we get to choose this day whom we will serve. This Christmas…what is your response?