A lot is written across the internet telling people that God gives us all a second chance, but what about the person who has given up on God? There is a scarcity of information trying to persuade a person to Give God a Second Chance. Now think about that, trillions of articles and pages on the internet, and I couldn’t find more than a page or two arguing for why God is worth a second shot. It baffles me because nearly everyone in America knows somebody who is done with God, but NOBODY is talking about why, perhaps, God deserves a second chance from us.
In our previous blog post, Pastor Brent took us to one of Jesus’ most famous parables, the story of the prodigal son, and he unpacked 5 of the most common and understandable reasons people give up on God. Let’s take a look at the 5 reasons he listed:
That’s a really quick overview, and if you missed the post, I encourage you to go check it out. Brent concluded by asking each of us to evaluate if the reason we walked away from God was actually God’s fault - was he to blame, or something or somebody else?
- We choose to walk away
- Circumstances happen to us
- We become religious
- Bad Theology
- Bad Christians
Today, I want to pick up where Brent left off. Brent wrote about us. He wrote about why we gave up on God. And today, I want to look at things from God’s perspective. What is it that God has done or offers to us that should maybe make us consider giving him a second chance. If he’s not the one who should be taking all the blame for our busy schedules, our tragic experience, our unfair expectations, or our lousy church experience, then maybe, just maybe, he deserves s moment of your time to look at why God is not the one we should be running FROM but the one we should be running TO.
Why God Deserves a Second Chance
He Gives Purpose
Now in saying this, I understand many people who have walked away from God would take offense at that. They would say they have purpose. Very few people are living a life without any purpose at all.
The problem is, without God guiding our purpose, we as humans can very easily serve a purpose below what God intended when he created us. Without God guiding us, we can find our entire lives are centered on ourselves, our comfort, our status, our kids - completely self-centered. Only when we walk in step with the God of the universe will we take on a perspective bigger than ourselves. That’s essentially what the Apostle Paul was teaching when he said:
Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God created us and gave us each assignments, work he decided he wanted us to do for him long ago. And that is now our purpose. We don’t live to build our best life now. We live to build God’s Kingdom here on earth. And it’s in building that Kingdom that we actually come closest to God’s original decree to humans.
Going all the way back to the first chapter of the Bible, immediately after God created Adam and Eve, he told them their purpose:
Genesis 1:28 - God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
God created us and then he told us to fill the earth and subdue it. Create, build, tend, care for, multiply, enjoy HIS CREATION AND HIM. That’s ultimately our purpose.
Here’s the truth, without God establishing our guiding principles, our boundaries for what we are to live for, we the human race find all sorts of less meaningful things to live for. And without God, we can’t judge anybody else’s purpose as wrong or less.
That’s how we get white supremacists working to eradicate blacks.
And how we get a dictator in North Korea working tirelessly to bomb America.
And all sorts of people here in Des Moines working countless hours to pay for fancy cars or lavish lifestyles - completely consumed by and suffocating in their greed.
And without recognizing that we actually need God to establish our purpose and identify what we should be working towards, all sorts of people do all sorts of things that are harmful to others and themselves, making a mess of their lives.
It reminds me of the closing verse in the book of Judges, the low point of Israel’s history. It says: “And everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”
He Offers Forgiveness
What I find fascinating is in Brent’s message last week, several of his reasons people give up on God are because of feeling that somehow he has wronged us. He caused our suffering. Or he didn’t help when I lost my job. He didn’t answer my prayer for healing. And we feel like God owes us an apology. That we need him to answer for his actions.
But the truth is, we have it all backwards. God doesn’t need US to forgive HIM and give him a second chance. We need God to forgive us. God has never sinned against us. He has never been the cause of our pain, he has never abandoned us, or gossipped about us, or failed to do what he promised. We have failed to truly know him, to know what his promises are, to know the evil our sin causes us and others. But that’s not reason for God to seek our forgiveness - it is reason for us to seek His. We have wronged God, and many times we don’t even know it.
Romans 3:23 - “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
That’s the truth. We are at fault. And those who have turned away from God would be well served to humbly tell God, “God, I’m mad at you. Show me the truth. Teach me your ways. “
And praise be to God, he knows that, and even before we ever asked, he sent his son to the cross to die for our sins. While we were still his enemy, while we were fighting against him, not following his purpose for our lives, he was doing the work to show that he forgives us.
1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When we finally stop blaming God and thinking he owes us an apology and realize we owe him one, and we confess our sins to him, he stands ready to forgive us our sins and to wash us clean.
That’s exactly what every religion is seeking to accomplish. This is the very purpose of the world’s religions - to offer a way for humans to atone for our sin or to reach a place of perfection, outside of our failure mistakes. The difference between Christianity and the rest of the world’s religions are that in this faith based on Jesus Christ, forgiveness is freely given by God, and not earned by our good works. Yes, we do good works in response to God’s goodness, but no amount of good works ever makes us clean.
He is Our Hope
The third reason God deserves a second chance is that he IS our Hope. Some people have given up on God because they look at their suffering, the death of a child, the evil in the world, and they say “There is no God.” Or maybe they feel like God must not care at all. And so they walk away. But I contend, in those dark times, if you walk away from God, what else are you putting your hope in? Or have you completely abandoned all hope for the future.
Jesus’ disciples faced a similar situation once when Jesus was teaching some difficult things that people didn’t understand. In the same way our failure to understand suffering causes us to walk away from Jesus - this teaching was causing everyone to walk too. And as the crowds were leaving him we read this:
John 6:66-68 - From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Do you see in this statement how Peter recognizes that while Jesus teaching is challenging, he has no other options. He may not love the teaching, he may not understand it, but he does understand this - “Jesus is the ONLY HOPE he has for eternal life.”
After walking away from God, we might try to put our hope into things apart from Jesus - we might put our hope in our income, or in our spouse, or in our reputation, or into addictive behavior that makes us feel better like shopping or drinking. But do we really think any of these things are worth building the foundation of our life on? Or are they just fleeting diversions? I think David got it right when he penned Psalm 39:
Psalm 39:6-7 - We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
God has promised never to leave us or abandon us. He has promised to cleanse us when we confess our sin. He has promised to give us his inheritance one day as we live in the Kingdom where all our sickness is healed, where all are loved ones who love Jesus will be, where there is no pain, no evil, no suffering, and no reason to blame God for failing us. At that time we will see in completion his Goodness. And it is in that perfect future and God’s grace and mercy to get us there where we must put our hope. Compared to that, nothing else even comes close!
He is Faithful
Putting our hope in God is meaningless if he is known for letting people down. But we read in Hebrews:
Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
This is the God who promised 70 year old, childless Abraham that he would have descendants that outnumbered the sand on the ground. And at 100 years old, God gave him a son, born to his 90 year old, baren wife. Now that’s being faithful to a promise.
This is the God who promised to give the Israelites the land of Canaan. And then he toppled the walls of Jericho from just the sound of trumpets, he defeated an army of tens of thousands through the obedience of just 300 men with torches, he defeated a giant through the trust of a boy named David, and he proved to be faithful as the Israelites took over the entire land God promised to them.
This is the God who fulfills not a few prophecies about the coming Messiah, but dozens of prophecies are fulfilled in his life, death, and resurrection. Throughout the Old Testament, God was making dozens of promises about the coming Messiah, and he was faithful to fulfill them all!
And the best part of God’s faithfulness is that it doesn’t depend on us.
2 Timothy 2:13 - If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.
Abraham tried to have a child through his servant. The Israelites often disobeyed God’s commands. Herod did all he could to try and kill baby Jesus. And through it all, God remained faithful to his promises.
And he remains faithful to his promise to you too. Even though you’ve tried God out before, you’ve walked away, you’ve been unfaithful, you’ve given up, that doesn’t mean HE has given up on YOU.
Will You Consider Giving God a Second Chance?
When we really examine the reasons we give up on God, while we may not love to admit it, none of our reasons are God’s fault. In various ways, his goodness, his perfect creation, and the purpose he gave to us has been tarnished. And in our failure to see the root cause behind why we walked away - we unfairly blame God. But I hope that in reading this, I have given you some very real and tangible reasons to consider giving God a second chance. I mean that - are you willing to say to God today, “I need you God. I need the purpose you offer. I need your forgiveness. I need the Hope found in you.”
Just like a father whose heart breaks if his kid walk away from him, God’s heart breaks for every person who has walked away. And he yearns for a second chance. He pursues you and He hopes that you might look and see that he is good and faithful, and worthy of being your Father. He loves you more than you can even comprehend. And it’s the Love of God which is truly the #1 reason he deserves a second chance. And that is where this series will continue next week as Pastor Brent concludes his teaching on the Parable of the Prodigal Son - looking at the amazing love of the Father. So make sure to come back next week to read our following article about why God wants to give YOU a second chance.