One of the simulation exercises I often utilised during my Self Discovery classes is something I termed ‘Digging Deep’ (actually, maybe I shouldn’t speak in the past tense, as my coaching /training senses seem to be experiencing a re-awakening of sorts at present).
I would ask participants to close their eyes and picture their ideal environment, be-it the world, a country, city, town, street, or home – their choice. The memory of so many glowing faces still warms my heart. I would then dig a little deeper by asking them to identify what it would take to attain such an environment. Then deeper still, by asking them to identify their role in making it happen. The results were always quite phenomenal; not simply because it is an effective tool for helping individuals to identify their role in an ever-changing world, but even more-so because it came from within (their hearts), and as a result far more authentic.
There is something about the heart that yields both authenticity and sustainability.
The bible demonstrates this time and time again.
Let’s look at two examples.
1. When Samuel was instructed to anoint Israel’s new king, he naturally looked for someone tall, muscular, and handsome; someone who looked like a leader of men. As wise as he was, his focus was very much on outward appearance.
‘But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’.
I Samuel 16 vs 7
When one considers David’s life – his many misdeeds, failings, and disastrous love-life, one can’t help wondering, ‘didn’t God see all that wrongdoing before he anointed him??’.
But the reason God chose David is very simple. ‘He was a man after God’s own heart.’
God has always desired to have a free and intimate relationship with us.
David was free with God, not because he was arrogant but because he knew how much God loved him; and as a result, his love for God was literally out of this world.
It is why he cared little about his status as he danced for God in public like a mad-man. It is why he thought nothing of sharing consecrated bread between himself and his soldiers when ravaged with hunger. Because he knew how much God loved him, he probably had a far better understanding of who God is than anyone else before or since.
So who is this God we serve? And what exactly does he want from us?
Sin offerings, sacrifices and so forth, as illustrated and described in the old testament, were performed as an atonement for sins, in order to put God’s children in right-standing with him. But as a result of an inherent inability to ‘live right’ 24/7, offerings and sacrifices were a very necessary periodic ritual.
Did this satisfy God?
The sacrifices and offerings may have obtained some temporary holiness, but did they satisfy his love for us?
The answer is ‘not at all’, as demonstrated by the following verses;
‘Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased….”
Hebrews 10 vs 5-6
What do we associate sacrifices and offerings with?
In other words, God is not interested in our ability to obey the law. His desire is for us to be loosed from the law in order to be able to grasp how much he adores us, thereby freeing us to love as he loves us.
Think about it this way:
The law was written on stone, but the new covenant is written in our hearts.
“I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.
Then he adds:
Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 10 vs 16 -17
Despite Adam and Eve doing their utmost to consign God’s desire to have an intimate relationship with us to the realms of impossibility, he didn’t give-up on us or his desire. So much so that he sacrificed his only son in-order for our relationship with him to be renewed and forever secure.
Let’s go back to the example I used at the start of this message. As I pointed out, the reason the ‘digging deep’ exercise is so powerful is because the discovery comes not from the outside but from within (the heart).
In the same fashion, the reason the new covenant of grace is so powerful is because it is ingrained in our hearts. Whatever comes from the heart is far more powerful and sustainable than anything from the outside.
His love already dwells in our hearts, and if we can let-go of our focus on the law, we will not only be able to recognise and fully embrace his wondrous and unfailing love, but be free to love others like he loves us. For that is what he wants from you and I.
‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…’
Hebrews 10 vs 24 -25
So, who is this God we serve?
He is a God of infinite and unfailing Love, whose mercies are renewed every morning.
And what does he want from you?
He wants you to let go of all remnants of the law and embrace his love for you, which, through Christ is already in your heart. And by so doing, you will be free to love others as he loves you.