"Religion is man seeking to find God, trying to please God in order to win His love. It is man taking the initiative, striving, being filled with futility and frustration. Faith is God finding man, God coming and claiming and loving us even when we don't please Him. It is God taking the initiative to love us. When there are idols, man is in control. When there is God, He is in control."*Early on in our lives, we have learned that when we do well, when we strive, when we are the best, we can get our reward- from those times when our parents gift us for good grades received on our report cards, from teachers who give us treats for good behavior and correct answers, and from Santa Claus who leaves toys underneath the tree for good boys and girls and pieces of coal for the bad ones.
This is the world that we know, the world we live in, the system that we adhere to and have learned to play along with. Some of us have been very good at it: climbing up the ladder of success through hard work and then rightfully receiving the fruits of our labor.
However, many of us often approach God thinking that in order to gain His love and approval, we must come to Him on such terms. Oftentimes, we think that if we accomplish such and such- if we prayed enough, if we went through penances and pilgrimages, if we could be good enough- we could have God love us, or at least that we could have Him turn His attention to us. Then we realize that there are a thousand moments when we say and do the wrong things. Then we question, "How can God love someone like me?"
"This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." 1 John 4:10Dear reader, we have been invited to strive no more to gain His love because even before time began, He already loved us. And our sins were washed away through His Son so that we would no longer focus on them.
This is what sets Christ apart from other gods. While others demand that we come up to their level in order to gain their approval and thus our reward, Christ came down and lived amongst us to not only demonstrate His love for us, but to give us the opportunity to have a deep relationship with the perfect God. In Christ and through Christ, our sins are not judged anymore and we are given a reward that is infinitely beyond what we could ever deserve or accomplish for ourselves. All we have to do is believe.
*Prophetic meeting, January 7 2013
Scripture taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) from biblegateway.com.