I heard a statement recently that resonated so strongly in my spirit, it was as if I were realizing something significant for the first time. It was not actually all that profound….just common sense…..and, indeed, quite biblical. I had just never heard it put so succinctly.
“One may lose fellowship with the Lord because of decisions made, but one is never beyond the love of God.”
Even in our salvation, we can encounter new situations, new decisions, new dilemmas, new trials, new hurts that challenge our faith. One may make a bad decision without adequate Godly guidance simply because of failing to see the need, failing to ask, asking the wrong counselors, or failing to heed the counsel provided. One may lose her peace in the Lord as a result, her sense of his presence. She may feel out of FELLOWSHIP with God, but she will never be beyond the redemptive power of God’s love to restore her to that fellowship, if she repents. God may allow the veil to be lowered between us and him because of our actions, but his is ALWAYS within earshot and his heart is not turned away from us.
Today I saw a meme on social media:
“Anything your mother and father do for you after 18 is out of pure love and kindness….please don’t get it twisted.”
It gave me pause…..As is often the case with social media memes, no matter how spiritually, emotionally, or psychologically helpful they may seem, they typically tell only part of the story. I don’t want people to be ignorant, as the Apostle Paul says. In counseling a lot of the festering wounds and trauma of childhood are because of one’s misunderstanding of the dynamics of “family” relationships, or relationships PERIOD….of feeling betrayed, abandoned, neglected, ambushed, or out-and-out abused in relationships in which one should have been able to vest her trust.
So I added this note to the meme:
“It certainly should be ….but it isn’t always true. Adults in any relationship to you…. biological or otherwise…..can be just as caught up in the cultural ethic of self-interest and wind up using others without realizing that’s what they are actually doing and calling it “love.” When you discover that is the case, don’t be surprised. Just know that love is not conditional on you meeting their expectations. Love is love (1 Corinthians 13). And know, too, that once you are an adult no one “owes you” anything, even your family.
FELLOWSHIP with others may be conditional on mutual respect for one another’s values and boundaries, but LOVE is not. Love is love and will continue to hope for the very best for you even when you are no longer a part of their life because of values, needs, call, purpose, or paths diverging. And that’s not just a mother or father thing…..that’s true of anyone you truly love with the pure heart of God.”
And that is true of anyone who truly loves you, as well. Those who love you with the heart of God hope for the best of all things in your life, even if they are not a part of your life. They also love you enough to let you go your own way, even if, in their best judgment, you are making decisions that are not in your best interest. Think: The Prodigal Father. Each person has to come to the recognition of what they value, what is important to them, and what is in their own best interest.
One who truly loves will let you go and discover that for yourself, as Christ did with the rich young ruler, for those who needed to tend to their parents first, for those who had to tend to the fields first, for those who lacked gratitude to God and continued on their own way, for those who wanted to bend his will to theirs, etc. Their own interest or the interest of their highest priority took precedence over Christ. Christ did not cease to love them or refuse to extend the reconciling work of his sacrifice to them. But they were no longer in fellowship with him. The opportunity to enter into permanent, eternal fellowship with God…..that is what we are offered…..and not just on the other side of this physical realm, but in the midst of it! NOW!
I am reminded of Jesus’ parable of the faithful servant who is privileged to hear this greeting upon completion of his work in Matthew 25:21, 23 :
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and enter into the joy of the Lord.” Other translations say:
“….come and share your Master’s happiness.” (CEV)
“….From now on, be my partner.” (Message)
“….Come, celebrate with me.” (CEB)
“….Come, have a good time with your master.” (WE)
What is that but an invitation to fellowship…..to permanent, joyful relationship together? One may know that she is loved by God. But is she enjoying the daily joy of fellowship with her Lord? If not, why not?
Peter lost fellowship through denial. Judas lost fellowship through betrayal. Thomas lost fellowship due to doubt. Others lost fellowship due to jealousy, anger, apathy, deception, etc. What is keeping you from fellowship with God?
Jesus Christ himself in his humanity lost fellowship with God briefly on the cross through the submission of his will to God, through his willingness to take upon himself the sins of all humanity, but he was never beyond the love of God, who was right there with him all the time and who redeemed that terrible burden. We are never beyond God’s love or his presence. We may be beyond the ability to be in fellowship with him because of our choice to be associated with sin. God cannot be in fellowship with sinfulness. He will lower the veil and we will not be able to see his face or feel his presence.
In an ironic coincidence that only God could have arranged, I knew that the ladies downstairs were listening to a Joyce Meyer CD on the fruit of the Spirit. I was focused entirely on what I was doing, but just now, as I finished this post, I heard her talking about this Scripture. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share in my joy.” And continue on the topic of faithfulness. Does God know how to make himself known to us in any moment? Oh, yes.