I've been struggling a bit lately...with my faith and with my friendships...but it wasn't until the other day that I realised that the two things basically go hand in hand. Usually it's when I feel disconnected from my friends, that I also start feeling disconnected from God and questioning all sorts of things about our relationship. It's like I allow the assumptions of my relationships to spill over into my view of God and before I know it I feel completely condemned and unable (or maybe just unwilling) to bring myself before a holy God, knowing how much of a disappointment I feel like to Him.
But then yesterday, I was driving around listening to a sermon by Tim Chaddick (You can check out some of his sermons at realityla.com) and it hit me that it's the Grace of God that turns my condemnation into conviction. This changes how I live my life from...me feeling like a failure knowing I'll never live up to some standard... to me realising that that I'm already accepted by God and how I live my life is a reflection of how much I grasp that fact.
When I look at life through that lens, it almost doesn't matter if I ever find my place in my group of friends. When I take the time to rest in the fact that I am truly and completely loved by God... right here and now, no matter how many bad choices I make or wrong things I say....I stop worrying so much about trying to be on my best behavior around people and I'm able to just relax and be God's servant. Life becomes a lot more about Him and others....and less about Me.
A part of this realization also comes from a sermon series we are doing at church on community (you can listen to the whole series here). We've been talking the past two weeks about forgiveness and my pastor's quoted a lot of scripture, including a bunch about how much we've been forgiven and how anyone trying to live according to the law is already condemned.
I know it sounds funny....actually it's down right ridiculous when I really think of the implications...but often times I feel like living under the law is more comfortable for me. I like the black and whiteness of "Do this" and "Don't do that"....I know what's expected of me in that. But grace is a whole different ball game for me.....while it frees me and makes me acceptable to God...i don't understand the "rules"of it as well (if there are any) and thus it's easier for me to feel like I'm disappointing God in it. So I find myself clinging to law to try and prove myself to God.....which only leads to feeling condemned...and me pulling away from Him and others.
I clearly still have a lot to learn on this topic. But I think the more I learn about the grace of God, the more my focus in life shifts from Me to God...and the more I find myself living to please Him instead of others....and ultimately the more willing I am to just love people without expecting anything in return..... and the more comfortable I feel in my friendships. So apparently...in everything...it all comes down to Grace...