Jesus is a gentleman.
It's something I heard often in those early years of Christianity, when I didn't know much of the character of this God who lovingly swooped into my life and stole my heart. But I was eager to learn.
He will knock on the door of your heart, but He will never barge in. He's a gentleman. He will wait until you open the door.
He's a gentle man. Humble in heart. Unconditionally loving. He hung on the cross so we wouldn't have to, so we may live free, out from under the burden of sin.
But in order to be resurrected into freedom, there must first be death. For Jesus, it took three days, but for us it often takes a lot longer. It takes time to loosen the grip of selfishness. Time to exhaust all other options; time to see ourselves for what we truly are.
The journey to surrender is often an arduous and painful one, but it's a destination we must arrive at willingly, with a heart of humility and repentance, before we can ever attempt to lay down our lives for Him. Sin surrendered out of pressure to conform is still tethered to the heart, and it's human nature to pick it back up again, eventually.
But we are such a stubborn and prideful people that we often continue to exist suspended in the misery of our pain, stuck somewhere on the path between conviction and repentance. It's hard to pry our fingers off of the life we think we always wanted, or the way we thought things would go. We are afraid. In our heart of hearts, we sometimes don't trust God with the unseen, so we take matters into our own hands and attempt to do damage control.
We self-medicate to dull the pain of unfulfilled existence. We watch too much TV. We continue to eat long after we're full. We get angry at the people we love for interrupting our time or needing too much. We drink or take drugs. We long to feel wanted and loved, so we engage in illict sex. We spend money we don't have. We lie, steal, and talk badly about others.
We get mad at life and mad at God.
And yet, He waits for us.
Hosea tells us He's the loyal, unconditionally loving spouse to a whore of a wife, who is constantly wandering and seeking fulfillment and pleasure elsewhere. He's the one who repeatedly buys us back from the auction block, rescuing us from the misery of our sin, even though we've failed to see our value and worth in Him. Again. Even though we've run off and sold ourselves to cruel masters when, all along, His yoke is easy and His burden light.
He patiently waits for us, even though He knows we will abide with Him for a time, return His love for a time, only to run off again after the next abusive substitution we allow close to our heart.
He's a gentleman. And though His heart aches for the lost, He will never force their hand. Because that isn't love.
We're fellow sojourners on this road toward freedom and true life in Christ. It's a journey that requires much patience, grace, respect, and love, as people wrestle out their issues with Christ, as they manage the pain of limbo, and as they do the hard work of offering up their deepest selves to the brutality of the cross.
Only in Christ can death give birth to freedom and new life and surrender yield victory. Be gentle with one another and humble in heart, as you seek, by His strength and grace, to follow after Him today.
This post is part of a series I’m writing for the month of October called, Walking in Humility: Learning to Abide with God in the Everyday. If you’re interested in the reading the rest of the series, you can find it here. Enjoy!