Responding to God

When I began taking medication for a minor skin condition I was told 3 out of 10 people don’t see results. It hadn’t occurred to me a medication might not work, and I left hoping I’d be one of the lucky seven. I kind of wished the doctor hadn’t told me because it bothered me I might be wasting my time and money, besides risking unpleasant side effects.

At the end of my second month of treatment the doctor said with a smile, “You’re a responder!” It was working and I was relieved and happy. I kept thinking about how she called me a responder. In this case, my body responded to the medication, but my thoughts soon turned to how I am doing as another kind of responder.

To respond is to do one or more things as a result of an event or action of another. We first notice or hear, then we act. In the case of God’s interaction with humanity, he revealed himself in the Old Testament in various ways and the people responded, sometimes with fear and sometimes with obedience—or lack of it. In the New Testament, God revealed himself in the person of Jesus and the people’s response was to kill him, because of his presumed boasting and seemingly lawless living.

It’s easy to see how people respond to God today. We see belief, scoffing, anger, indifference, even murder. Some respond by giving lip service and going their merry way. Some actively try to pull believers away by telling them the Bible is a fairy tale. Some put their energy into obeying every jot and tittle of the law, while others live in fear they can never do enough.

Some authors and speakers tell you to let God control your mind and heart. I have a problem with this as it leaves no room to respond to God in the way he wants.

How does he want us to respond? We know we don’t have to do anything to earn our salvation. Jesus finished his work on the cross, giving us the gift of grace. A gift can’t be earned or bought. If that were true, it wouldn’t be a gift. He gave us freedom of choice and calls us his friends, so I don’t believe he wants us to relinquish control of our hearts and minds. Besides, it’s impossible anyway.

God is the one who formed his plan of salvation before the foundation of the world. He loved us while we were enemies. He’s the one who reaches out to us even when we don’t want to be reached. He never gives up—his love is never ending. He wants us to try and grasp the enormity of his love and grace and respond in kind, to love him and to love others.

We have a choice as to how we’ll respond—or not—to the Holy Spirit each day. My prayer is that we’ll become more and more responsive to his indescribable love.

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