The Real God. The Real You.
This past Sunday, Russ gave a sermon on Matthew 6:1-18, the part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that focuses on what we do in secret versus what we do publicly (i.e. giving, praying, fasting). Russ talked about how in this passage Christ is encouraging us to bring the ‘real you’ to God and to believe the real God wants to invite the ‘real you’ into his kingdom. I think there’s a mountain of things to reflect on from those two points, but I just want to reflect on how amazing it is that God wants us to bring the ‘real you’ to him and what that tells us about the real God.
I thought the idea that God wants to deal with the real ‘you,’ not the cleaned up ‘you’ is amazing – completely amazing. If that doesn’t sound amazing to you, think about the way we want others to come to us. More often than not, we don’t want other people to come to us messy, broken, twisted, hard-hearted, bitter, or with overwhelming, all-consuming desires and longings. We don’t want that and in a lot of ways we just can’t handle it. We want the cleaned up ‘you.’ We want the calm, happy, peaceful, joyful ‘you.’ We want the ‘you’ that best serves me. And until we see that ‘you’, we’re likely to tell you (at least in our hearts) what we all too often (and incorrectly) think God says to us, “Come back when you’ve got your act together.”
But that’s not what God says to us. God doesn’t deal with us like we deal with each other. What God says to us, in and through what Christ did on the cross, is, “bring the real you.” No pretending. No faking. Just bring the real you. That is mind blowing. And it’s mind blowing not because of what it tells us about us, but because of what it tells us about God.
What God’s invitation to bring the ‘real you’ tells us about the real God is that the real God is not the grouchy, needy, killjoy of a god we make him out to be. The real God is a selfless, humble, loving God. God’s invitation to bring the ‘real you’ tells us, as Christ told himself, that he came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mt. 20:28). And in that incredible act of cross-shaped love, God tells us he’s not out to get something from us but to give something to us – himself.
The real God wants to give us himself. That should blow us away because if he gives us himself, there’s nothing else he can give us. There’s not some other, bigger, better gift out there he’s holding back. He, and everything he is, is the gift. Think of it this way: all throughout the Bible, God talks about himself as a husband to his people. And what does a husband do for his wife? He gives himself to her – his whole self, everything he is and has. For we who are or have been husbands, that kind of love is still aspirational. But for God, the eternally loving, eternally faithful Husband, that love is not aspirational. It is definitional. It is who and what he is – an unbending, fully giving, whole-heartedly serving, faithful God.
There is no other god like that. There is no one like the real God. There is no one like him who can, without hesitation, say, “bring the real you.” In our best hour we feel woefully inadequate for the task of loving someone that way. But in God’s worst hour, Christ gave himself up to be crucified. In that hour he said with his body, as he had with his actions and his preaching, “I’m here for the real you and I’ve brought the real me.”
In the face of such utterly unique love, we can’t help but say with the Psalmist: God, “Whom have I heaven but you?” (Ps. 73:25) Truly, we have no other Savior. We have no other friend. This is the real God and he has come to call deal with real sinners. So come to Christ, all you who are weary, and he will give you rest. Take his yoke upon you and learn from him, for he is gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. (Mt. 11:28-30)
This is the real God and he invites the real you to come and be made new.