Monday, January 21, 2013

Goodness

Who would you die for?  Not risk your life for, like heroic police officers, soldiers, and others do.  I mean for whom would you deliberately step forward and offer to die in his/her place?


For me, the answer's easy. I would die for my girls, my nieces.  I might die for my husband if he didn't beat me to it.  I would offer my life perhaps for other adult family members.  But that's it.  Short list.

Why do I ask?  "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Romans 5:7-9).  These verses haunt me, because left to myself, I am neither righteous nor good.

God, in His great love, didn't consider our qualifications. He died for us while we were sinners, enemies, outsiders.  With this very thing in mind Paul refers to us in Ephesians 2:12 as "having no hope and without God in the world."  No illusions allowed: our salvation is the unmerited free gift of God.  We weren't friends of God, swapping favors.  The heart of the good news is we didn't have to be.  He wanted us anyway.

We already knew that we weren't worthy, didn't we?  Deep in our hearts is a terrible whisper.  "I'm just no good."  Our culture shouts back, "You're special! You're important!  You're just great!" then backhands us with a thousand insults to prove we're not.  God says simply, "I know you're not.  But I am."

How good is He?  Let me ask you another question.  Who would you allow your child to die for?

Nobody.  That's the answer.  I wouldn't give up one of my girls even to save the other and certainly not to save any other human being on the planet.  Forget it. No way.

"For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:10).

It's not just that Jesus came down to earth and offered his own life for us, as mind-boggling as that thought is.  It's that God Almighty, offered the life of His unique and only Son to His enemies in hopes that by His death they might become His children instead. What kind of King offers His enemies adoption instead of assassination?

His own Spirit of adoption dwells in our hearts and the natural result is goodness.  How could we be surprised? (Romans 8:15 Galatians 5:22-24) Our God is the definition of good; He declared everything He created good. He created Adam from mud and His own breath. He knit us together in our mother's womb. Neither Adam's sin nor ours negates His intention.  We were created to be good!

What about our sin? The Creator of the universe made us a new creation. Each Christian is born a second time of water and the Spirit.  (John 3:5) Paul puts it this way, "We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

Of course if we are walking in the Spirit, we'll be good.  How could we help it?  We were made by a good God.   More than that, we'll do good.  Like a hammer was made to pound nails, like a mug was made to hold coffee, we were made to do good works.  Not in some frantic effort to earn the love of God, but extending from His nature, His Spirit, and the way He made us.

I know frantic Christians, urgently working more and more, in the fear of finally failing.  They misunderstand.  I know gloomy Christians.  Confused by the echoing truth that they are not themselves "good enough", they feel worthless, despairing and still lost. I am here to trumpet the truth.  In and of ourselves, we are not worthy.  But God means for us to be!  He crafted us again, purposing us to be vessels for His Spirit and agents for His good work and His good will.  Out of the immense depths of His goodness, so vast that He would send His only son to die for the worthless, He makes us good. 


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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