Matthew 11:28-30: yoke: Jesus is always with us. How many of you have read this verse and said to yourself, "Yeah right!" Because nothing seems to have gotten any lighter or easier since becoming a Christian. Nothing seems more restful. If anything, life seems to have become much harder in many ways. There's less fun, more stress, more work, more worry. How could Jesus say His burden is light and His yoke easy when so many suffer in His Name? When He asks so much of us? Most Christians today live a very stagnant Christian life at best. Many, a very stressful Christian life, wondering, where is the rest, the joy, the benefit of following Christ?
Many live their whole Christian life, never knowing the joy and rest of following and loving God. Therefore, many turn away again after, "Trying" the God-thing for a while! Where is your, "Joy meter" in Christ? How much excitement, how much rest do you get following Christ? If your walk with Jesus isn't easily, the greatest thing going in your life, something is wrong. There are many reasons many never experience the joy of knowing Christ. But I think, the biggest reason we do not absolutely love our walk with Him, and have our burdens lifted is because we see Christ through the eyes of religion, rather than ever getting a glimpse of who He is. John 3:16: We know that God has chosen to love us (meaning to save us, care for us), but, that is a far cry from feeling that He is intimately, excitedly, passionately in love with us, individually interested in us as though no one else existed, especially since He hates sin so much, and we are so sinful. We don't want to be around someone, or be intimate with someone that we feel is annoyed or displeased with us all the time, right? Most of us see God as serious, monotone, and unemotional, maybe slightly irritated and impatient with us half the time, tolerant, but displeased., formal, in control, dignified (like all the men of power aspire to look). How do you get intimate with a tolerant, dignified, righteous God of the Universe? If we can answer that question—if you could just see the real Jesus—not the religious Jesus—your walk will completely change. First, you must realize this one big issue, that may be paramount in some of your lives. Choosing a life of sin over God will prevent you from feeling His intimacy, even though He is there and wants to show it, because your choice to sin has broken that intimacy on YOUR SIDE! This does not have anything to do with trying, trusting, and failing. That is why He paid the price He did to keep you close to Him through those failures—accept that, and glory in it—but a choice to embrace sin over Him, will give you intimacy with whatever you have chosen—not with Him— because it has become your desire, over Him. Revelation 3:20: He will not force Himself on anyone—you have to want Him to come in. If something else is there instead of Him, He will wait outside patiently.
If you are passionately pursuing Him, understand this: He is not like us with our pride and insecurities, unable to forget about self long enough to love freely. We see Him as less intimate in how He shows and feels love, but He is much purer and unbridled in His love than us. How many have ever seen someone who never had the courage to dance, but after they got a few drinks in them, you couldn't stop them (even if you really wanted to) because they have become uninhibited. The alcohol has made them forget about self and what others think [we are not condoning alcohol]. How many of us pray, worship, and serve out of obedience, but we take no joy in intimately talking openly with Him, singing to Him, loving Him? Because we are so conscious of ourselves? We are so dignified? And we assume a Holy God is as self-conscious as us. Well, Jesus—the Creator God Himself—has more undignified, pure love for us than we do for Him. He doesn't want cold fellowship, and calculated obedience. And we're not talking about having crazy services and outwardly forced shows of emotion, but real love and intimacy instead of religious actions. He came to show us how to love, so let's look at the overwhelming examples and descriptions of Jesus' real passion and emotion for us. If we can just get a glimpse of who He really is, it will change the way you feel in His Presence forever. It will help you decide whether you are loving Him the way He desires. Psalm 23:5: Here God says even in tough times, all He wants is our fellowship; especially in tough times when we leave Him. ["Anoint my head" means cherished, and honored. "Cup runs over" means He wants you to stay with Him and not leave.] Those are powerful pictures of how much He literally treasures and wants you near. Mark 3:1-5: Jesus is not the legalist. He is furious when we put righteous actions (beyond His commands) before loving and healing. It hurts Him to see us in pain or suffering. We see Him as the holier-than-thou One, and He is the One who hates that, “religious holiness!” and He just wants real love: John 11:32-35: Here Jesus planned the whole event of Lazarus' resurrection, so He was not crying over Lazarus. He was literally broken over the pain sin and death cause us. He was broken because He saw them broken. (What real, intimate love—He cries with you, even if He had to cause or allow that pain. [Does that sound formal and stoic?]) John 5:5-14: Jesus secretly comes to this man who is all alone, who is sick because of his own sins, and heals him out of compassion and pain for him. Jesus then slips away quietly, without pomp and praise. He quietly comes to us in our pain, even self-caused. He doesn't run away from us when we fail, but we have to tell Him we want healing. Luke 15:20: It was totally humiliating and unacceptable for the man of a household to show this kind of undignified emotion and action for anyone, but He didn't care, because His love overcame any criticism or ego [Do you get that?] No sin, no shame, no degrading act by us, will ever cause Jesus to love us less, or be ashamed of us in front of others or the Father. This story is not by accident. God wants us to see how overwhelmed He is with us, when we choose Him over our sins. Does this sound like a, "Greater than thou-Unpleased-Unsatisfied-Dignified" God to you? Luke 7:36-39: Get into the reality of Jesus' love here—when someone comes to Him that everyone in the room is ashamed to associate with—a low-life prostitute—and Jesus allows her to touch Him, and love on Him in public, in the most intimate of ways, because His love for her goes beyond what others think, or what looks dignified. How many here are embarrassed and self-conscious when someone shows you affection in public? Ever seen couples in love who aren't aware anyone else is there? Jesus loves so much, it is only you and Him in the world when you love on Him. In John 4, Jesus asks a, "loose", woman who has been rejected by her own society—and is of a race that is considered, "scum" by Jews (Samaritan), to literally share her water with Him from the same jug. Again, every detail is for our understanding. He did this partially because He wants us to know that our past doesn't make us untouchable, or unlovable. He wants to intimately touch us and share with us. [Does this sound like a pious, distant God who is just after our actions?] How many times does Jesus reach out and touch the rejected, immoral, and unclean when He heals them? Not because He has to, but to meet a deeper need than physical healing to give them the intimacy they crave, and that the world has robbed them of. That's my Jesus. Not only is He unashamed and passionate in showing us love, even when we feel unworthy, He is so in love with us that He will humiliate Himself. And as God, come and serve us, love us, and clean us when we are at our most selfish and dirty times. John 13:3-5: the disciples are so proud of who they are, that they will not stoop to wash one another's feet at the Passover meal. [Imagine feet in those days after a long, hot, dirty journey in sandals] This wasn't a ceremonial washing with poured water over clean feet. Jesus intimately wiped the sourest, scummiest dirt from between their toes in love and servitude. Even normal servants were not required to do this task. (Gentile servants, or servants of servants did this) He is the One, who will touch, share, clean, and love you intimately when no one else wants to be near. That's my Jesus. When you are feeling that He wants nothing to do with you, or that you are so unworthy, dirty, and insignificant that He overlooks you, see the truth: Psalm 139:17-18. His thoughts for you are uncountable. Do you think about Him that much? His love for you is deeper and more passionate than even yours is for Him, or for others. God is not, nor has He ever been, interested in just having an obedient servant to follow His commands. He sees us as so much more than sinful servants, and He wants so much more than religious behavior, no matter how, "Holy.” Hosea 2:14-16, 19-20: He doesn't want a servant, but a Beloved who is passionate about Him, who knows His passion for them. And if you think that is only for Israel and the Old testament: Revelation 2:2-4. Jesus sees the religious good, and the hatred of evil in the church, but none of it mattered to Him, if it wasn't all because of a real passion for Him. he wants excitement and passion in our relationship. Zephaniah 3:17: God's true character and raw emotion for us.
After seeing how God loves us, after seeing that He is the One who loves us—with unashamed emotion, with tears, with touching, with sympathy, with compassion, with innumerable thoughts and love letters, with humility, serving, getting dirty with us, with open displays of love (even as God), with uncivilized, passionate actions, singing, and even dancing—don’t ever think again, even for a moment that Jesus is distant, uninterested, or uninvolved. Don't ever think he is cold, calculating, and hard because you are not perfect. Know His passion, His acceptance, and especially His desire to have more than your good works. He absolutely wants your heart and passion. That doesn't mean you have to be crazy and open in your worship. That means you are driven with true love, not religious formality. That means you are completely secure and totally excited to feel His passion and acceptance for you. Think for just a minute: He could live anywhere in this entire, amazing, vast Universe, but where has He decided to place His Spirit? In us. It's easy for Him to love you, because our sins pale in comparison to His love—that is why He went so far as to die for us. Not so we could live as, "Holy Robots,” but so we would be free from the sin that keeps us from His passion. An awesome teacher of the Bible, John Piper, made the insightful comment: "God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him!" When we finally see and rest in His crazy love for us, that is when we give Him glory by recognizing His true heart and kindness towards us. Do you rob Him of His Glory and satisfaction by missing the real, deep love and acceptance He has for those who truly love and seek Him, even in our imperfections? This kind of love should draw us away from the stress of religious living, and cause us to glory in His Presence.
I hope you see Him differently today. I hope you choose to dance in His love. He dances in yours. What an awesome and intimate God we serve. You’ve got to drop those distant, angry, pious views that are false. You’ve got to see how He really loves you with passion. One of His greatest desires is for you to understand that love. Let’s show Him the same love back ❤️
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