Greetings from Stonehaven’s community of churches. We hope this missive finds you well in these turbulent times, please be assured of our continued prayer for yourselves and the town as we journey through these days together.
At Stonehaven Baptist Church this week we discussed parts of a letter Paul wrote to the church of Philippi in which the question was posed, ‘how can we stand righteous before God?’ How can we present ourselves as innocent in his eyes, forgiven, so that we might have a vibrant, living relationship with him?
The answer to this question is we can’t place ourselves as perfect before God, not under our own strength since none of us is perfect, but, our case is far from hopeless. We have grounds for security on the basis of the work our saviour Jesus Christ has done, he who sacrificed himself so that we could be made right with the Father. Such righteousness therefore isn’t our own, it’s the righteousness of Jesus Christ who abides within us that saves, imputing his holy spirit and presenting us as guiltless before God. And we will always have this God. While others leave and betray us, despite the seasons of our lives ever changing and not always for the better, we can depend upon a relationship with God if we remember it is indeed a relationship, a two way deal, just like any other.
Some in the modern day feel sheepish about their faith, almost ashamed. Indeed there’s no shortage of mockery for those who confess faith in Christ, but when we stand resolute in our belief we can feel empowered once again. It’s important not to allow others to unsettle our faith, not to be lead away from God. This was what Paul wrote to the church of Philippi, beseeching them not to drift from God, and the same applies to us today. If we can resist those temptations that lead us astray, turn down those practices which provide (supposedly) short term gain yet develop into long term pain, we can live much more fulfilling lives.
We can’t earn our way to God by being good, and thankfully he doesn’t expect that of us either. He simply asks for an avenue into which he can pour his spirit and it’s from there that good deeds are produced, that avenue is our hearts. Through our hearts he can live in us, abide in us, prompt and guide us into living a life pleasing to himself, and consequently ourselves too. God isn’t impressed by people who are puffed up with their own importance, he seeks humility instead, for people to leave aside their self importance and open their hearts to him. Reputations mean nothing to God, not when compared to his son Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life yet sacrificed himself for us. Just imagine that for a moment, choosing to go to your death as an atonement for those who routinely sin egregiously against your father. That right there is perfect love.
Knowing Jesus and forging a relationship with him, opening our hearts to him, offers God the room to provide the righteousness we cry out for. It’s imputed to us by his holy spirit and when we receive it, God sees his son in us and not ourselves, forgiving our misdemeanours and building us up to live a life very much less ordinary. Believe it, and be open to the strength he wants to give you.