‘For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 1 Thessalonians 5.9
We might be tempted to gloss over the last five words of this verse, but they are actually the key to so much in our Christian lives: ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
It is easy to focus on all the effort we put into co-operating with what God is doing, such as prayer or showing practical love to others, but it makes a massive difference if we can stop regarding these as activities we do to find favour with God, and instead engage with them because of God’s love for us.
If the motive behind our prayers is a suspicion that God will not bless us unless we spend time with him, then our prayer-times are likely to be far from joyful. Instead, if our prayer begins with a fresh look at the one who loves us so much, it will hopefully be far more enjoyable and enriching. This is part of what it means to pray ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ’. We choose to pray because of what Jesus has done and what he has freely given to us. Similarly if we seek to bless and love others out of duty, we will soon be resentful of the demands this makes upon us, but if every act of kindness is undertaken as a reflection of the enormous love God has for us, then we will respond with different motives and different hearts.
Through his life and death Jesus has given us everything - and he is not going to take it back! Let your life joyfully reflect this.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission