What do I have to do to be good enough for God?
By Pat Stockett Johnston
Growing up, I never thought I could be good enough for God. In fact, everything I learned about God and His love for me morphed into 'God the Judge'. My image of God featured Him as a stern Father, sitting on His throne with a pair of binoculars in one hand and a black, permanent-ink pen in the other.
He spent His days spying on the people who believed in Him, searching for their infractions of biblical laws.
When He discovered anyone breaking His rules, He opened their pages in the registration-for-heaven book (called the “Lamb’s book of life” in Revelation) and blotted out their names. Those banished believers received cards with a message equivalent to the game of Monopoly’s card telling the player to “Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.” They had to start a new relationship with God—as if the previous friendship had never occurred.
I felt like a spiritual failure, a person who didn't meet the requirements God demanded to enter heaven. Although I was committed to following Jesus, I recognized that my attitudes, words, and actions were far from perfect. I wondered, “Does God expect perfection in daily living? no bad choices, no weaknesses, no mistakes allowed? Was I asking for forgiveness for my bad attitudes, words and actions quickly enough?” I recognized how often I failed to be like Jesus. I wasn’t ever sure I was good enough to please God.
As my relationship with God matured through the years, however, I began to recognize that my first image of God had been out of focus—that He was much more than a judge. I now understand that He knew me before I was born (Psalms 139:13) and called me by name (Isaiah 49:1) before I chose to develop a personal relationship with Him. I have found God to be sympathetic and merciful during my struggles to please Him. The better acquainted I became with Him, the more I experienced His love for me. I’ve come to know Him as a compassionate, warm, caring Father who craves my love—just as I crave His.
I still like to envision God as sitting on His heavenly throne, but my perception of Him has changed. I no longer think of Him as the mean, vindictive God I imagined in my youth. I believe He mourns when we reject the Spirit’s leading, that when we falter He reaches down through his Spirit and guides us back to His ways, that He supports us in our daily living.
In my mind’s eye, the Book of Life holding the names of those who follow Jesus does rest on God’s lap. He’s writing in the book, but not in permanent black ink; He marks our names with yellow highlighter to notate our need for special attention, for new revelations from His Spirit that will help us become like Jesus. The last thing He wants or needs to do is scratch out our names, for He understands that the process of being “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8.:29 NRVS) lasts a lifetime.
God enjoys his relationship with us and never closes the door to communication. The “God is love” Bible quote isn’t just a verse to memorize. His is an active love, love in the present tense. It’s by accepting God’s love, mercy, and grace that it’s possible for us to please Him. Romans 5:5 tells us that “…God…poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” We don't need to worry about being good enough when we love God, listen to the Spirit's leading, and use the Bible to guide us in our daily living.
Do You Want a Relationship with God?
If you want this kind of relationship with God, pray this prayer right now:
Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you took the pain of the cross to give me new life. I ask you to come into my life and to give me your peace and joy. I confess that I am a sinner -- that I have gone my own way and have done wrong. Please forgive me for my sins. I receive you now as my Lord and Savior. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to follow you and to serve you all my life. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, you are now a child of God. The things of your old life have passed away and He has made all things new.
We want to join you in celebrating your new life. Please send us an e-mail to let us know that you prayed to receive Jesus as your Savior. Or you can call our Prayer Counseling Center at (800) 759-0700. A caring friend is available to talk with you and send you some resources to help you begin your walk with the Lord.
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