Is God for Me?

There can be no better news than the message of the gospel- God is for you. Without these simple words we are alone in this world at best. At worst, we find ourselves in the dismal and futile place of fighting God. God will defeat his enemies. Make no mistake about it, the love of Jesus is accompanied by the fact that he is also Judge. This message has never been popular as long as our fathers have proclaimed it, so I will try not to take it personally should you decide to disagree on this point.

For those of you who may not know, I am a part of a community whose main focus is aiding sexual addicts on the road to recovery through the simple message of the gospel. For many of my friends, addiction has been part of their story since they were young children. At the moment we have men and women who are anywhere from divorced to sentenced to prison to diagnosed with diseases that come as a consequence of many sexual misadventures. There are some very sweet, satisfying stories of victory among us as well as some bitterly heartbreaking instances of unbelief and continuing active addiction in our ranks.

As you may well imagine, loneliness, rejection, and shame are the constant evil companions of my friends. Many have been abused by parents, rejected by spouses and experienced public disgrace. The devil seems to have had the final say in the lives of many in our community.

In the past month, I have heard the same question come from several in our community regarding a somewhat unlikely passage in the bible. They have been reading through the book of Romans and have reached the 9th chapter. Suddenly, a question has arisen that, indeed deserves some attention.

My friends say they feel as if God has passed over them. If God loved Jacob and hated Esau, they feel like Esau.

And their concern has troubled me, in turn.

So many of my friends have experienced unspeakable tragedy in their lives. So many of us look back over decades gone by and recognize our constant failure to do things the way we should. It seems there is absolutely no way God could be loving us at the same time that he allows such difficulty into our lives.

The gospel has become, to many in the church, good news for other people. Over the years, history has born out the fact that priest after preacher after pastor has not really believed that what he preached was the message he needed so desperately. We may well believe that God loves sinners but we have long ago abandoned hope that he would love us.

Have you ever felt like that? You look back over the course of twenty, thirty, or sixty years and see nothing but pain and failure. And being convinced of the futility of the past you are afraid to look at the future. At that point, does the present not even seem to be hopeless?

I am convinced my friends and I are not the only ones who have struggled with this question. At times, we all feel as if God is not for us. At best we are to live life as best we can, keeping our nose clean and making our own way. At worst, we see God as our sworn enemy.

Over the next couple of posts we will consider the Apostle Paul’s discussion of Jacob and Esau. Why would he bring up such a terrible and awesome reality? And furthermore, how can we get comfort from God’s ruling hand?

For now though, consider that the question we have whispered into our ear at our weakest point is exactly the same as Satan’s challenge to Jesus in the desert. Three times the devil tested Jesus: if you are really God’s son. In other words, if God really loved you, would you not have enough to eat, security, and power?

Also, consider for now Jesus’ answer to Satan’s accusations. Three times in a row, Jesus falls back on the fact that his Father is for him. Jesus not only knows but so much more, reveals the heart of God.

Karl Barth, one of Bonhoeffer’s teachers, wrote: In Jesus Christ as the origin and end of all his ways God confronts man with nothing but his goodness.

God is coming after you with his goodness in the person of Jesus. Remember that when Satan starts in with his lies.

God is for you.

3 responses to “Is God for Me?”

  1. look forward to what you have to bring to this topic. I think there are many among us – to often myself included – when we hear “God is for you” we think – prove to me I’m not Esau.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Scott! I hope the Spirit can convince us all.

  2. Hey brother, I can’t sleep and so I came over here to your blog because, somehow I feel very drawn to you. I think it is largely because you have a focused angle of the Throne, namely ‘God is for you.’ Of course, I believe the same thing, and I know the same truth, but when you express yourself in dozens of different ways speaking the same truth, ‘God is for you,’ something more than mere words, even more than ideas, comes through. I believe it is the hammering of God on the doors of our humanity, hammering because He too is a human like us, but a lover, rescuer and savior who just will not let up, until He breaks down our doors and takes us into His arms, becoming for each of us the Lover we always wanted.

    I too have a focused angle of the Throne which I can’t help repeating, reiterating, preaching, exhorting, encouraging, singing, praising, giving away, shamelessly and tirelessly, an angle of the Throne that I did not find on my own, but was simply given, grace crashing into me with the force of a million cyclones that I could not resist, ‘Just follow Jesus, and do only what you see Him doing, speak only what you hear Him saying, in the gospels.’ A corollary following closely behind this angle is the discipline of ‘Just say Yes,’ to whatever He places in your path. So maybe I am double focused, or maybe the first includes the second, ‘Just follow Jesus, and always say Yes when He calls,’ might be another way to express the angle I’ve been given.

    You and I (from reading your ‘About Me’ profile) are both deeply affected by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and also by Martin Luther, and for exactly the same reasons. Why we are not Lutherans is the plain irony of the reality of Christ’s call. His call never fits our expectations or those of others. I’m not sure if you are in a particular Christian denomination in the same sense that I belong to the Orthodox Church, but I’ve seen you wearing a T-shirt that had the word ‘Baptist’ on it, so I sort of assumed you are a Baptist. That would not surprise me any more than I am surprised that I am an Orthodox. Though both of us have origins or preferences that shape our witness, I couldn’t be more sure that you and I are enlisted in the same unit.

    I may never meet you in person, or witness with you, and yet I feel very close to you. Like I said, it seems we are in the same unit, and our Commander’s instructions to you and me, though they may differ as to detail, have perfectly the same ends, and on the Day the war is over, we will then, at least, meet and know each other as Christ knows us.

    One other thing really unites us in our call and our witness, and this is something that usually escapes most Christians, and most churches: the mercy of God. You and I know without the slightest shadow of the doubt, that God is mercy. Why? Because we know the depths of our own sin, the hopelessness of our own personal struggles without Christ, the miraculous forgiveness of God in Christ, and the lavish love He bestows on us, so abundant that we can’t hold it in or keep it a secret or try to keep it to ourselves. I know this about you, and about me, and really, that is enough to know about each other in this world.

    Maybe I will try to sleep now. Since returning from Indonesia, I have not been able to fully accept the fact that I am back here in America. I was there for three weeks visiting my adopted son Yudi for the first time, and living with him, his friends, and extended family, becoming one of them in the process. It isn’t jet lag that has a hold of me, but heart lag. Now I am waiting for the Lord to make His next move. Yes, for when the cloud moves, we move. That’s all we know, just follow Jesus.

    Allah memberkatimu, saudara tercinta saya, God bless you, my beloved brother.
    And pray (just this once, and now, please) for Romanos the sinner.

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