My wife and I got mugged in Savannah, not physically but verbally, by a guy holding a sign and yelling Bible verses at us. He literally followed us down the street, trying to “save” us by forcing Scripture on us. He probably thought he was earning brownie points from God. I was annoyed. More than that, I was frustrated, wondering how many people he had chased away from God’s grace that day. If you get accosted by someone shoving God or the Bible down your throat, don’t fight back; run away. Because God doesn’t work that way.
It’s not that God doesn’t care; He really does. Jesus’ brother, James, wrote of how God intensely yearns for His Spirit to live in us, just as He intended. (That is my rough and loose paraphrase of James 4:5) God is passionate that we be restored to the fullness of spiritual life by having His Spirit alive in us. He wanted that for us so much He paid a terrible price to accomplish it.
BUT HE DOES NOT FORCE HIMSELF ON US! He waits for us to be ready. James continued his thought with this:
“But He [God] gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 – my explanation in brackets)
“The proud” in that verse are those who think they have life figured out on their own and who have no use for God. He waits. Stuff happens. Sometimes “the proud” become “the humble.” In the words of Bob Dylan (Like a Rolling Stone)
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal
When “the proud” become “the humble,” when they are ready to receive Him, then God approaches. With grace. Not with loud, angry shouting. He sent His Son to find you and rescue you.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)
Jesus invited people to come to Him and find rest, saying He was “gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I remember seeing a video on Facebook about a guy who rescued an abandoned, starving dog. The dog was aggressive, unwilling for anyone to approach but the guy just sat there and waited him out. After a long time, when the dog was ready to receive it, the man gave him “more grace” – care, nourishment, healing and a new life. There was no yelling involved, no signs, no scolding. It was very much like my own experience with God, Who waited until I was not so full of myself. Then, when I was ready to receive His grace, without holding anything against me, He gave me the life of His Son, Jesus.
He waits for you, too.
Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.