We live in a world where most people do not know a life of completeness. In fact, most feel that their cup is not even half full. The vast majority of men and women are searching desperately for a wholeness that they cannot seem to find. What most do not realize is that there is no completeness without Jesus Christ. He instilled in us a need for Him. God made man whole in the beginning, but when Adam and Eve chose to sin, they chose to have a part of themselves removed. We were created beings with free will. God will not force entrance into the void that they created; we must ask Him to fill it. Until we do, there will be a chasm; just as if our heart was taken out. And His presence is just as necessary.
I first want you to understand what a blessing this is. The restlessness that we feel in a life incomplete is an amazing gift; one that most people do not realize. If we were to be content with what we have, if life was full in and of itself, why would we search for Christ? Why would we need to? Our perception would be that we are self sufficient, that we have everything together on our own. We do not go searching for something if we think we already have all we need. God knows this. He gives us a thirsting spirit to bring us to the Wellspring of Life. We need to feel thirsty so we do not die of dehydration. In the same way, we need to feel our lack of Christ to accept His grace that we do not perish because of our sin.
And yet it is painful and we do need to fill our hearts. There is no person alive who has not struggled with a barrenness of spirit at one point in time or another. Eve fought this issue when she let the devil trick her into believing that God was in some way trying to restrict her happiness; that she was somehow missing something. She did not contemplate that what she was missing was not something that she would desire were she to obtain it. God did indeed wish to keep something from her. He wished to withhold the unpleasantness of sin. And through her distrust of God and resulting sin, she found from what God was hoping to exclude her. Adam struggled with this when Eve took the fruit. He felt that his life would not be complete without her, and so he too sinned so that his life could be whole. But the completeness he had was not found in his wife as he thought. They both immediately recognized that a portion of their beings was missing after their sin. The presence of God left them. That piece is still missing in each of us. Today we run around from home to the work place and perhaps elsewhere, looking for our fulfillment in our families, our career, hobbies, or other pastimes. We are so focused on these things that we lose sight of the one thing that can make us whole. We are trying to fill the space of a circle with a rectangle. The void was not created by a lack of wisdom like Eve thought. It was not created by the lack of a soul mate as Adam feared. It was and is the absence of connection with God. We were created with God being as much a part of our beings as our hearts. Without Him we are truly empty and lifeless. How do we receive Christ back in our lives and thus fill the fissure in our souls?
There is a simple truth about the character of Christ that must be understood to answer that question. In John 1:1, the Bible says that God, His word, and His law are one and the same. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” 1 John 4:16 says that, “God is love.” So if God was the Word and God is love, God’s Word is love also. And we know that God’s Word is His Law for us. That Law must then be of love. And out of love He would not permit anything that would destroy or restrict our happiness and “likewise” would not restrict anything that would enhance our existence. God has given us His law because He loves us, it is the essence of love. God’s Law, His Word, and His love are all the same. To think of one without the other would be the equivalent of taking the soul out of one’s body. There would be nothing but a shell. We cannot have one without the other. So if we are to accept Christ into our hearts, we must accept His divine law also.
I wish here to make something very clear. We tend to think in this day and age that freedom is the absence of law. Let’s look at this for just a moment. What would happen if there were no laws to govern humanity? Laws are instituted to place some moral boundaries in society. They are meant to regulate the evil impulses and to create consequences for insubordination. If there were no laws and no consequences for defiance to the law, people would feel at liberty to follow their evil impulses: killing, cheating, stealing, lying, adultery, etc. This would leave us in so much fear of one another that we would not feel at liberty to leave our homes for fear of what is outside our doors. Even with societal laws this is happening. I visited New York City not too long ago and was strongly warned not to go out after dark for fear of the violence. There is no freedom in this. Where is freedom when we live in fear? If we truly loved one another selflessly as God asks, we would restrict our actions to be in line with God’s law, and guide others to do the same for the safety and happiness of all. But we don’t. It was a disregard of God’s law that left Adam and Eve feeling naked and empty. God could not dwell with them as He had previously because God and sin cannot coincide. It is continued disrespect to the law of love that maintains the emptiness.
We were created out of love and we are each instilled with a need for affection. We all love to be loved. There is little else more satisfying to the human soul than feeling unconditional acceptance. Because of sin we all have limits as to how much love we can receive or impart. And yet it is to each other that we tend to look for acceptance. The truth is that no fallible human can fill the need. How can one empty cup fill another? Of course, it is very important for us to love one another. It is a commandment that God set above all others. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37–40. But the love we give to one another is so very finite we cannot even begin to fill the void. We are blessed to have a God whose love knows no limits; He alone can fill the chasm. Realizing that God loves us so much more than anyone else and accepting His love is what fills our hearts and completes our beings.
We feel sometimes that even God is withholding His love from us. We may feel at times as though He is absent from us with the hardship we face, the losses we experience. The Bible says that God will not deprive you of any good thing. Furthermore, anytime we lose something dear it will be replaced by something better. It is with faith and patience that we must acknowledge that God promises that His love never ceases and He will care for us. Since we cannot see the whole picture we must lean on One who does. The blind must be led by the seeing. When we accept and understand this about God, our attitude begins to change. We can see that God’s law is not there to restrict and withhold, rather to ensure our safety and happiness. The change in how we view God is important to receiving Christ. It would be impossible for us to see that Jesus is the only one who can fill our need if He was Himself in any way limited. If we choose to believe that His law has been instituted because He loves us and wishes only good things for us, will we then not choose to obey? And in obedience, we are accepting Christ in our hearts; the missing portion of ourselves that the devil does not wish us to find. We are told that God created men and women for happiness. And if we follow in God’s path He will bring us delight. That is not to negate the fact that there will be sorrow. We live in a world of sin, but it does mean that God will ensure joy through all strife. And those who accept His presence in their heart will know the beauty and everlasting happiness of heaven.
When we learn of Christ’s everlasting love and learn to love Him in return, our position toward sin changes. Christ died to save us from our sins. He would have died on the cross for a single person with a single sin so they could spend eternity with Him. That is such a powerful and unfathomable statement. We cannot imagine love like that. But it is life altering. Who, when they know that their sins are what caused their beloved Christ’s suffering, would continue on the path of sin; continue to nail Jesus to the cross? And who would believe that someone who loved them so much that He would die just to save them would withhold anything good from them? In seeing Christ’s character and accepting the Holy Spirit into our hearts such that we do no more harm through transgression of His law, this is a repentant heart. This is the means by which we accept Christ and allow Him to fill our empty cup.
Just as we received Christ at the first, we continue to receive Him every single day. Our repentance grows deeper. We begin to hate sin increasingly with the knowledge of the price and our love for the One who paid it. And as Christ leads our repentant hearts, we turn away from the highway of sin and begin walking in the path of righteousness. What a blessing is in this. Yet, let us not let down our guard. The same devil who was working to prevent us from knowing Christ will work much harder to turn us away from Him. Even though we have accepted God’s love for us and have felt the peace and joy that His presence gives us, we are not yet complete. And we never will be complete until we reach heaven. As long as we are on this earth, the devil has an opportunity to rob us of our precious gift. Satan is working overtime to get us to lose sight of Christ in the immense distractions of the world. He would do anything to get us to search for wholeness in the world, because it preoccupies our attention. Possessions, relationships, and endeavors on earth are simply a rat race because they do not last. What takes a lifetime to build can be knocked down in a day. How can things that are so fleeting make us whole? It is like water through a strainer. The water constantly has to run to replace what has been lost. This occupation of constantly trying to keep the strainer filled keeps us from finding the glass that is overflowing with God’s blessings. We are so concerned with rebuilding what has been lost, despite the fact that it will once again be torn down at some point, that we forget our calling to build something that outlasts even our lifetime—a relationship with God.
Christ wants to give us peace and wholeness, but He wishes to relieve us of something also—something that inhibits our ability to experience the serenity He gives fully. He wishes to take away our sins. Christ cannot dwell in us, but He also wishes us to be cleansed of our iniquity. What would be the point of new clothing if the body is still dirty? Through grace God wishes to cleanse us of our filth. This is a surgical procedure to cut away the decay of sin and carry on anew with Christ. We are forgiven our sins and are separated from them by the power and sacrifice of Christ. It is up to us to allow Christ to cleanse us of our guilt. And why would we not? It is anxiety-provoking and shaming to live with a guilty conscience. We can never be whole with sin, as sin and God cannot coexist. It is a barrier between us and a loving God. The good news is that through Christ we can be purified. Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can live a life after Christ’s example to us.
God requires us to live a life of service for Him. In the mentality with which we are now surrounded, this seems like a life of drudgery and confinement. But God created His beings to want to serve, just as He created us to need love. It is not a wonder that a creation used for a purpose other than for which it was invented would fail in any other pursuit. Imagine trying to warm your food in a freezer. We do the same thing when we try to serve ourselves. We were not meant for that. There is no lasting satisfaction in a life of self-service. We all have heard that the more we give, the more we have. And yet it is not fully understood, and can not be understood until we realize that God created us with an innate desire to serve each other and Him. The contentment and satisfaction that accompanies a single good deed can be multiplied infinitely with the dedication of one’s whole life to the service of love. We were meant to be industrious for a good cause, not the gain of fortune which can be swept away at any moment, but rather the gain of Christ which neither person nor circumstance can obliterate without our permission. A lasting reward is found in the faithful work given to God. Even Christ, God’s Son, delighted in service. I do not speak of white-collared service either, but the service of a true servant. With a humble and loving heart Christ washed the feet of each disciple, including Judas, who Jesus knew would betray Him in a few short hours. Looking at the life of Christ there is not a trace of ambition, pride, or selfishness. A carpenter by trade, He touched the untouchable, drove demons from the demon-possessed, and washed the feet of sinners, all with a humble heart, a heart of service and love. The Bible tells us that God made us after His own image. That does not mean just physically, for He made us also to find satisfaction in service, worth in humility, joy in giving, and peace in Christ.
The fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace. It is through a life of service, obedience, surrender, and self sacrifice that we find peace and wholeness. Christ wants desperately to come into our hearts and guide us to these things. He is knocking at the door of each heart in hopes of being invited in. We cannot fill the space of a circle with anything other than a circle. That piece is Jesus Christ. He gave His all for us to be a part of His family. Let us give our hearts as a dwelling place for Him, and be whole.
Alicia Freedman works for Steps to Life as a part of the LandMarks team. E-mails can be sent to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.