It's all about God. Really, everything is about God.
I can attempt to ignore him. I can try to wish him away. I can struggle and fight against him with all my heart and soul.
But he keeps showing up, and he does so in confusingly contradictory ways.
Sometimes when he arrives, he doesn't knock. He pounds. He's angry. And I'm pretty sure that if I were to open the door—which I'm afraid to do—I would not like what I see. I don't want to talk to God right now. He sees my sins. I have definitely "missed the mark" with God. And that's what the Bible tells me sin is.
So I run. I hide. I try to escape his anger. God is so holy that if I were really to experience his raw holiness, I would become nothing more than a puddle. Deep, deep down, I know what I deserve. And it's not God's goodness. "The wages of sin is death," the Bible says so simply, so bluntly (Romans 6:23, NIV).
My wage statement is not looking so good.
In fact, it is an unbelievably frightening statement for those who take it seriously. Like King David, who wrote this in the Psalms, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me" (Psalm 51:3, NIV).
But then again, right there in the very same Romans 6 passage that talks about our wages in horrifyingly threatening terms, are the mysterious words, "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Romans 6:23, NIV).
God is knocking, trying the latch, looking in the windows, seeking some way in. He's persistent. He has to be, because I resist, sure that he's still angry. He sends his Son, Jesus, to unlock the door. He wants to speak with me. God is no longer angry. He has a gift for me—a very, very valuable gift. My sins are forgiven. And they are completely forgiven, all of them.
Why is God such a mystery? Is he angry with me? Or is he happy with me?
I would like to know. Sometimes he seems like such a contradiction. Until I realize that God has a Father's heart. He is holy. He is also kind. It is God's holiness, expressed in his law, that condemns me for my sin. And it is God's love, expressed in his Son Jesus Christ, that frees me from sin's captivity and sin's condemnation.
To understand God, I must understand his whole heart—both the holiness of his heart, and the love of his heart. If I understand God's whole heart, then I can also understand the answer to the seeming contradiction of God's dealings with me. And I can better understand how he deals with my sin. Yes, because he is holy, he is angry with sin. He will see that justice is done. But God took all the punishment that is due to me, and put it on the shoulders of Jesus Christ, his Son. He did that at the cross. Justice is done! The holiness of the Father's heart is satisfied.
And so is the kindness of his heart. For from the cross of Christ flows forgiveness, renewed friendship, and release from captivity to sin, as well as the shame and punishment that go along with it.
If I can understand God's whole heart, I can understand how God deals with my sin. Romans 3:23-24 (NLT) says this: "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins."
But that's not all! If I can understand God's whole heart, it will also help me with some other questions—big questions like, "Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What's God's plan for my life?" If I knew God's heart, I would also know about my identity, origin, destiny and purpose.
That's why I need to know Jesus Christ. I need to know Jesus because, if I know the cross, I will know God's heart. And if I know God's heart, I will ultimately know myself too—my true self—and have a freedom that very few have. I will experience freedom from sin, guilt, shame and condemnation. Just like Jesus once promised, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32, NIV).