God loves you. He declares His love for you many times in the Bible. For instance, in the book of Jeremiah, God says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." He loves you because He created you: "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made," reads Psalm 145:17. Sounds good, but why, you may ask, don't I feel like I am loved by God? Why do I feel far from God or that there isn't a God?
Although humans were created to be with God, sin separates us from Him. The Bible states that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Sin is the rebellious and independent part of us that wants to go our own way. But what about good people? Are they an exception because they don't seem to sin? The answer is no, for Romans 3:23 says "all" have sinned. Imagine the Grand Canyon, God on one side and mankind on the other. Some people can long jump farther than others, but irrespective of our relative jumping ability, no one can jump across all the way. In the same way, some people are more moral than others. But, we all still fall short. God is perfectly holy, so that no matter how good we are compared to other humans, we cannot reach God on the other side on our own. What is the result of sin? God has warned us from the beginning of history that there is a consequence and punishment if we chose to go our own way, "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23). And as a God of justice, He must deliver on His word.
Happily, the story doesn't end there. Not only is God a God of justice, but He is also a God of love, explained above. He reconciles the tension between his justice and love through Jesus Christ--God in the form of man. Jesus was sinless and thus, did not have His own sin to die for. Therefore, he was able take the punishment of death for our sins. Suppose you committed a crime that warranted the death penalty. Your own dad is the judge at your trial. As your dad, he cannot bear to see you die, yet as a fair judge, he must sentence you to death (imagine the outcry if he let you off the hook!). He pounds the gavel, pronounces your death sentence, and descends from the bench to where you stand. He takes off his robe and says to you, "Child, I will die in your place." This is what God did for us through Jesus Christ. He paid the wages of sin and He died in our places.
Jesus didn't just die. He also rose from the dead, exactly as He said He would and as eyewitnesses attested. He says, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11:26). This is hope for us. Not only can our sins be forgiven, but we can live a whole new life full of everything that God wants us to be and have.
However, we must do more than simply know this. After your father, the judge, has offered to die in your place, you still have to accept or reject his offer. In the same way, humans must accept or reject Jesus. Jesus says in the Bible, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20) Accepting Jesus means first, acknowledging your sin. Next, you accept Jesus' death in your place and God's forgiveness of your sin based on that. Then, you trust God to make you into the person He wants you to be.
Take the leap of faith. Faith is trust. We receive Jesus into our hearts by trusting His Word when He says He's knocking and will come and be with us if we invite Him into our hearts. If you would like to receive Jesus right now, here is a helpful prayer you may say aloud or in your heart:
Lord Jesus, I need You. I acknowledge that I am a sinner. Thank You for dying in my place. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You that I am Your beloved child. I trust You to always take care of me.