I’ve heard news that you’ve stopped trusting in the Trustworthy alone, and begun to follow different paths. People you thought of as followable have distracted and confused you. If anyone, even the most angelic of beings, distracts you from the central truth, tell them to get lost! Do not live to please people; live to please God and God alone.
The truth I shared with you in my last letter was not taught to me by a mere mortal. I received it from Jesus himself – the Ultimate Trustworthy! You probably know the mistakes I made; I was distracted by the world, I dedicated my life to my job, I sought after self-sufficient financial security. God, in His grace, loved me despite my worldly focus.
I have recently travelled many miles across this country and spoken with many people, from Minehead to Roehampton to West Sussex. In each place I lived out the truth of God’s grace, and did not depend on my own abilities. It has been an honour to worship, learn and serve in so many different places, and I pray that I have been a worthy witness to God’s grace, even though He’s not finished with me yet.
I hear report after report telling me about people who have faced opposition, and fallen away from the central message of God’s all forgiving grace. Please don’t add laws to your life that were never meant to be there! They hold you back from the full life you could be leading.
God loves you because you are you! He does not love you because you brush your teeth twice a day. He does not love you because you go to church. He does not love you because you are kind to somebody. HE LOVES YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU! If you think you have earned God’s love, think again! He loves you, whatever you do! Ignore the rules set by man, and live out the love you’ve been given through Christ, for He died in the ultimate act of love FOR YOU so you could be FREE!
I don’t know if you’ve experienced the Holy Spirit loudly or quietly, but either way, you will have received the Spirit through grace – not because you had earned the experience, but because God wanted to bless you. The rules didn’t matter; God’s love did. I wish you would understand this point. If we try and follow rules to make God happy, there will always be something we’ve forgotten, but when we let go and just trust in the Trustworthy, we can be free. Believe me, it’s a lot easier!
In fact, we’re trusting in a promise as old as Abraham himself, before the law had even been written. The promise was completed when Jesus appeared on the scene. It was Jesus that did everything he was supposed to, and Jesus that died, and Jesus that defeated death. It was Jesus that got it right, so we can trust what He says… And He promises to speak up on our behalf to God himself, so trust in Jesus.
Without grace we would be slaves attempting to follow every rule and law shown to us in order to please people. Thanks to grace – a gift of love that goes beyond our wildest dreams, and is more than we deserve – we can trust in love, instead of in our own behaviour. We can even call God ‘Father’. He has adopted us into His family! How awesome is that!
I really hope you get it this time – it’s so easy to go back to relying on how we act and what we do – but we have to remember to keep our eyes fixed on God’s love alone. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, and don’t let yourselves become slaves to your own burdensome rules and regulations. What’s the point of that!
In fact, the only thing that counts is faith in God expressed in love!!! Fix your eyes on that fact and don’t let anything distract you from running at full speed towards that overwhelmingly amazing truth.
Of course, now we are free we have the ability to choose how we behave, and I know that I don’t throw cake into the face of the person who gave it to me – I thank them, and enjoy eating and sharing the cake. In the same way that you are loved, it makes sense to share that love with others. Listen out for the Holy Spirit, and He will guide you in truth. Don’t act in such a way that you insult God’s gift of love, and His stunningly beautiful invitation to be your Father. Think about what you’re doing – it’s obvious that selfish ambition, drunkenness and rage aren’t going to make you happy, and they’re not part of God’s plan either.
The great thing is, the more you trust in the Trustworthy, the more your life will feel more focussed. One day you’ll realise that the way you act and the things that bring you pleasure are so much simpler; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is nothing against any of these things – they are free and happy things to aim for.
You know what, I think God knows exactly what He was doing when He decided to love you. He knew the mistakes you’d make (I know I’ve made plenty) and still He chose you. We’re on this journey together, so I’m going to ask a favour. If you think I’m brimming with pride in my own ability, or judging someone by my standards, or acting like an idiot and wandering away from God, tell me. Shout at me. Please! I am a human, just like you, and I make mistakes too.
I hope I never boast in anything, except in the cross of Jesus by which I have been set free! Nothing else matters; nothing else counts.
I pray with all my heart that this letter brings you peace, and helps you realise that what you do is irrelevant – God Loves You!
Yours trusting in the Trustworthy,