x "What the world needs now is love, sweet love"x
lyrics by Hal David, ASCAP Music

 

W

e live in a world which is lonely for love. Nations are plagued by wars and boundary disputes. Our communities are robbed of serenity and safety by crime and violence. Our homes are sometimes made less than peaceful by bickering, harsh words, and name-calling.

     If everyone in the world could only love each other more, the world would be a nicer place. If everyone could at least get along, it would be for the better.

      If that is our wish for the world, then why don't we let it start with us!

      But we do love we just don't get loved back. It is the hurt from love given away and not returned which seems to be the problem. Unreturned love is painful, and seems to cause so much division! Who among us has not felt the hurt of an unthankful child, the fear of a domineering parent, or the dejection felt from a deserting loved one? If you've lived life and loved, you've felt pain.

      To love and to receive love in return, without heartache and pain, would be so fulfilling! It seems it would satisfy something deep inside. It would fill an emptiness which nothing else seems to fill.

      But because we don't gain from relationships the fulfillment we want, we find ourselves looking to life's pursuits for it. We seek it in our jobs, in our possessions, and in recreation.  Some search for it in sex, drugs, alcohol, and even in religious philosophy, but it is not found. It's true, these things can gratify, but like with love, the pleasures they offer are only temporary and the fulfillment we find comes and goes according to how life treats us.

      Romantic relationships especially seem to offer satisfaction, but as most of us learn, romantic love also offers the most pain. Such affection appeals to our hormones and seems to promise the most physical pleasure, but sex in the wrong context has serious side effects, both physical and emotional whether it's the dread of AIDS, the gnawing distress of an unwanted abortion, or the anguish of an unfaithful lover, we all sooner or later find that sexual "liberty" is not without its price.

      When love has broken our hearts or just left us cold, some of us look to drugs or alcohol, but they both tease and enslave. Numbing the mind hides the pain of life, but it doesn't change its harsh reality, nor does it really help us.

      Yes, when love does not give what we hoped for we can still find satisfaction in life, but when we find it we must strive to maintain it. It is through anxious efforts that we attempt to preserve a fragile peace.

      Kind of funny, isn't it in our efforts to find peace we get anxious.  The very path to happiness is paved with stress!  And those who hinder our efforts to find that happiness cause us stress and receive our anger. And the love that "the world needs now" stops with us.

      Is there a solution to all this? Is it possible to find a lasting fulfillment that does not disappear every time a relationship changes? Is it possible to find peace which does not depend upon getting everything we want in life?

      Yes, absolutely!

      The One who created us did not create us to be empty or unfulfilled.  It is His intent that we find fulfillment but that it be found in Him.  At present, though, many are separated from Him.  It is only when we are in a right relationship with Him that we are able to experience the fulfillment for which we were created.

      So, what's the problem?  What is it that separated us from God and presently hinders us from having that fulfilling relationship with Him?

 

THE CAUSE

      The answer to these questions is really quite simple.  We are separated from God because we've not lived for the purpose for which He created us.

      God created us for Himself to serve Him and enjoy Him.  The problem is that we've not served Him, so we've not enjoyed Him.  We've not yielded to God's absolute authority in our lives and we've actually offended Him by putting ourselves in His place.  We've attempted to assume control of our own lives and have had to suffer the consequences.

      God calls our willfulness "sin."  It is our sin that has separated us from God and has made our daily existence an offense to Him.  Consequently, in His perfect state of holiness, God has observed all of mankind to be corrupt each one of us deserving not love, but judgment.  We've brought upon ourselves not only separation from God in this life, but we face the death penalty for our sins too.  This means death to our bodies, and eternal punishment as well.

      To some these words may sound like a harsh appraisal of man's condition, but we must use God's standard of measure to determine this, not ours.  In our eyes we see people who we consider to be good and bad some better and some worse than others. From God's perspective, though, He sees beyond "nice" behavior.  He sees the human heart. Selfishness, lust, and bitterness are sins which He says infect each one of our hearts. Even the refusal of someone to believe in their own sinfulness is simply a demonstration of the worst of sins pride.

      Thousands of years ago God gave mankind his rules for life, which He wrote in our hearts. As our creator He had full rights to command that we love HIM above all else. His name, He declared,  we are not to use as a swear word. He said we must never lie, we must never take anything that isn't ours, we must honor our parents, we must have sex only with our husband or wife, and we mustn't hate anyone, for that is murder. It's because we have broken God's laws that we are separated from Him and feel so distant.

   We must admit it. We are guilty.  We do deserve judgment.

      Fortunately for us, though, there is hope!  God has provided a means of forgiveness for sins and opportunity for reconciliation with Himself.

 

THE SOLUTION

      God is an amazing God!  We sin against Him horribly, offending Him in all that we do, but He is still willing to have mercy on us!  He is still willing to forgive us!

      How can God do this?  Has He not declared that the penalty for sin is death?  Will God simply forgive our offense without the penalty being paid?  . . . No, not at all.  In fact, the penalty was paid and it cost a great deal.

      When God provided forgiveness for us it was He Himself who paid the penalty.  2,000 years ago He sent His Son Jesus to earth for the specific purpose of being punished for sins which He had not committed.  Completely innocent and undeserving of any punishment Himself, Jesus submitted Himself to torture and death so that sinful people would not have to die for their own wickedness.  He would do it for them. God be praised!

      Jesus died to provide forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God.  That, in itself, is too good to be true, but that is not all that happened.  Not only was forgiveness established by Jesus, but He also conquered death.  By raising from the dead, Jesus was enabled to offer to us the hope of eternal life.

      Certainly, in view of our present condition before God, and the lengths God has gone to help us, we must consider the question:  What must we do to be saved?

      Jesus' own words tell us the answer:

 

   "The work of God is this: to believe in the one whom He has sent . . . For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life . . . whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already."

      Of course, "believing" is not simply a mental acceptance of the facts about Jesus.  It is trusting Him personally trusting everything He has taught, and consequently trusting your life into His hands. In fact, Jesus said that if anyone would be one of His followers he must "deny himself . . . and follow Him."

      It takes real faith to follow Jesus.

      Perhaps you would ask yourself, "Is it really that simple?  Don't I have to qualify somehow for the forgiveness provided by Jesus?"  Yes, we must qualify for forgiveness, but the qualifications are quite easily met.

      Jesus died for sinners.  If we admit that we are sinners, then we qualify.  One of our first steps of faith must be to confess to God that we are sinful and that we do indeed deserve judgment.  If we are unwilling to recognize our debt to God, then we exclude ourselves from God's provision for sin.  We are left with no hope and remain condemned by our own pride.

      We must understand that our sins must be paid for in order to come into a right relationship with God.  Only Jesus can properly deal with our sin.  Nothing else can.  No act or practice on our part will take care of sin.  No amount of sincerity, good works, or religiousness will free us from sin's penalty.  If we do not lay hold of the forgiveness provided by Jesus, we will remain unfulfilled, separated from God, and will be eternally punished to pay the price for our willfulness.

      Where is your heart today?  Do you recognize in your life the symptoms of separation from God?  Do you desire to be right with Him?

      God is a loving and a tender God.  He is willing to take anyone who comes to Him. The love He demonstrated in sending Jesus to die is today extended to those who will come humbly to Him.

      Don't let this moment slip away without having availed yourself of God's offer of peace in your heart and eternal life with Him.  Cry out now to God for salvation. Admit that you are a sinner, undeserving of His mercy. Ask Him for forgiveness, repent of your sinful lifestyle, and turn your life over to Him. Confess to God your desire to cooperate with the purpose for which He created you. Give us a call at (916) 967-4673 and we will be glad to talk with you.