Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Gospel of YET

"YET while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
Hard to believe.
For a variety of reasons actually.
It's hard to believe that Christ died, Jesus was sacraficed, for me, a sinner.  He did not become a sinner, he became SIN.  This perfect man who was without sin, God incarnate, bore all of my sinful ugliness upon him in one final moment on the cross.  No wonder he cried out to God, "My God why have you forsaken me?"  God, his Father, couldn't even LOOK at him he was so ugly, so full of my disgusting debauchery, so full of the ugliness of the whole world.  Just picture all of it on Him.  Don't just picture the little stuff on Him - the petty thefts, the disobeying of parents, the lying...picture the BIG STUFF on him - the stuff even hardened, tatooed, gangster San Quentin prisoners HATE - the rapes, child molestations, the brutal wife beatings - all of that sin was all over Him.  All the ugliness of the world he carried on Him and it died with him, so that even the worst of the worst, could come stand before God BLAMELESS and have eternal life - if THEY BELIEVE and have faith.
Isn't that a little hard to believe?
OK, isn't that VERY hard to believe?
You mean if a child molester believes, repents, turns to God, he finds salvation?  Really?
Super duper hard to believe.
And here's something else that is hard to believe.
That I need a Savior.
I am not a child molester, a rapist, a murderer.  THOSE people obviously need saving. We all agree they need help.  They need forgiveness.  Me?  Little ol' me?  I mean I might be dishonest now and again, a little selfish here and there, time to time a tad sarcastic, but I wouldn't say I need saving for goodness sake!
Jesus, had to die for ME?  I mean, in my case, he probably could have just been put on a really long time-out or something.  That would have covered it.  You know the "special quiet time in isolation" the teachers use in Kindergarten to punish talk-back Tina or Bully Billy?  I think that would have been enough to cover my sins.  Hard to believe Jesus had to DIE for ME.  Do I really need a SAVIOR?  That is so dramatic. C'mon, really?
So hard to believe.
I'm doing well overall.  A few things here or there about my life and my way of living kind of suck, but overall, I really can't complain.  Actually, now that I think about it, I would prefer not to be saved. I think I'm pretty good on my own. Yeah, I'm good without a Savior, thank you. 
You see, that's the gospel of YET.  "YET WHILE I WAS STILL A SINNER, Christ died for me."  God knew better.  He knew then and he knows now that I need a Savior, whether I recognize it or not.  Whether I accept Him or not.  Whether I believe Him or not.
You see, God knew that when I sin just once, even in what the world calls a "petty" or "small" way (Think blowing a stop sign in the middle of nowhere), it means from that point on, HE CAN HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. One little lie, one little slip of the tongue, one little nasty thought and POOF - I'm a sinner. My perfectly clean clothes, immediately soiled, stained, dirty, dingy.  And well  God, being just and holy, can't just let me waltz into eternal life looking like that. I can't show up to the final wedding party in a old raggedy t-shirt that says "I'm with Stupid."  My sin is like that - it covers me in ugliness and keeps me from a perfect God and from perfect communion with Him.
Luckily, Jesus, took care of all that.  He's literally got me covered.  He took my ugliness, my raggedy nastiness on himself and took it all to the cross once and for all.  And OK, now that I think about it, I have done more than just be petty with my sinning.  Denial and a selective memory helps me "cover up" some pretty crappy things I have done over the years even if they weren't criminal.  And who do I think I am saying that my sin is less sinful than someone else's?  All it takes is one and I am a sinner! There is a price to pay for this sin!  God couldn't just let me get off scott free, he could have made me pay the price.  He could have kept his back to me, his eyes averted and let me suffer eternal separation from him.  Instead he offered his Son as a sacrafice and looked away from his own Son for that painful, terrible moment on the cross when Jesus was covered in the sins of the world, right before Jesus cried out in triumph "It is finished."  What is finished?  You, Jesus?  (Nope, we know he rises again.)  What was finished was sin and death.  What was finished was his suffering.  What was finished was his fulfillment of the will of his Father that He be a sacrafice for me, for the world.  Mission complete.  And when it was all over, God could look at me again because he doesn't see ME, my ugliness, my sin, instead he sees JESUS, his perfect Son.  My disgusting, grimy T-shirt is gone and I am "clothed in Jesus' righteousness" and I am spotless in his eyes.  I am welcomed by God, loved by God, forgiven by God, reconciled to God.
Wow, guess I did need a Savior after all.
It's hard to believe.

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