Emma Reilly – Gdansk, Poland
I’m reading through Philippians at the moment and recently came across this phrase in chapter 2 v 1:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love… At this point I paused. Wow – yes there is so much encouragement and comfort!!!
Over the last few months, I have become more aware of my wonky thinking about the love of God. How easy it is to become over-familiar with the truth that God loves me, no matter what, and yet not live in the absolute freedom of this. I sometimes found that when I messed up, there was a part of me that thought that God might have to climb up to be merciful – even just a little bit – as I sometimes have to, in relationships with others. I know that complete forgiveness is mine in Jesus, and yet I often had the sense that there might be a little bit of frustration on God’s part – a momentary sigh before the love! How easy it is to project our human reactions onto God and to assume (even if we wouldn’t say it) that He must sometimes react like us!
But, praise God, He doesn’t! I am coming to understand more deeply that Jesus is overflowing with love and mercy toward me in the very moment of my sin, and not just before or just after. His arms are forever wide open, and He is ALWAYS responding to me like this, with passion, kindness, tenderness, love and mercy. Wow! There’s no dip in His affection. He’s never distant, never cold, never wanting me to sit in shame. Never! He’s always pouring out mercy, and amazingly, it’s His absolute joy to do so! Jesus died for this very reason: that limitless mercy might be poured into my life, and unending intimacy experienced. What a truly amazing gospel!
And so returning to Paul’s words, my heart sings a resounding yes! There is no end of comfort and encouragement from Christ’s love – this truth is the context for all that follows:
…having the same mind, doing nothing from rivalry or pride, loving and serving others, not grumbling, obeying Jesus’ call upon my life; and not just in the light but in secret, when no one else is setting the agenda. Paul says in verse 12 to obey, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence; and then verse 13 …for it is God who works in you to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Obedience flowing from the love of Jesus and empowered by His working in me. How amazing is God’s kindness to give us everything we need for life and godliness!