Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Accepting the Gift

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” John 4: 10

What is at the heart, the beginning, the starting point of our Christian Faith? Is it trying to be holy? Trying to do good things? Being obedient to God and His laws? Serving others? No. At the very beginning, the Christian Faith is about God giving us the gift of His grace, His love—Himself. 

Do we truly understand this? Do we realize that the starting point of our relationship with God is not what we can achieve or accomplish, but that God has loved us and wants to give us this gift of Himself. Everything else in our journey is a response to this love. Everything we do is secondary to what He has done. Everything we give is a reflection of what He has given. Loving God, obeying God, following Jesus, keeping the commandments, serving others—all come as a response to the gift of God’s love given to us first.

But have we accepted this gift? Have we allowed God to love us? For we have the power to reject it, to ignore it, to limit the power of this gift in our own lives and therefore in the lives of all who come in contact with us. Are our lives a reflection of this love, this gift for us, or are they shadows? What joy our lives would produce if we truly lived in the acceptance of this gift. What hope and love our lives would bring forth if we truly allowed God to love us.

Yes, there are obligations and duties and commandments to follow. Yes, there is sin that we can commit. But all come after the acceptance of the gift of God’s love. All come after we allow Him to die for us, to save us, to redeem us. Without accepting this gift first, we are not responding to anything, but reacting to fear, or ignorance or shame. And lives lived in these shadows does not attract. When we accept God’s gift and allow His love to permeate our lives, then the laws, commandments and duties become sweet opportunities to love our Lover in return for His love. At that moment they cease to be burdens and instead become occasions of joy and communion with our Lord.

This is the secret of the Saints. With humility, knowing their true worthlessness and what their sins deserved, they accepted the gift of God and His love for them. And in this way, not only was pride dissolved from their hearts, but it allowed them to love God back with their whole hearts, follow Jesus with passion, serve others with selflessness and gain eternal life. If only we would fully accept God’s gift to us as well, what lives of greatness would emerge!

Dear Jesus, help me to accept Your love for me, Your sacrifice for me, Your gift to me. And then allow all of my life, my thoughts, my words and my deeds become a response to Your love for me. Amen.

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