The movie was drawing to a predictable close – the hero finally finds redemption and as a bonus he wins the girl’s heart, too – as I knew he would. It’s a movie, after all! Still I found emotions stirring, tears welling in my eyes. I recognized the root of those feelings. They are a reflection of my intense desire for a world without the pain, life without cancer, where there are no friends that forsake you in your time of need, where personal failure does not dog you day after day, where the work you do is rewarded beyond money or fame.
I am not complaining nor am I telling you that my life is without joy.
But, it’s not heaven yet and I suspect, your life isn’t quite heaven, either.
Am I right?
There are echoes of Eden in us that draw us to the beautiful, the loving, the fulfilling. We know life should be better, that suffering is a signal of the ‘wrong’ that is part of living in a world that is, as we Christians say, “after the Fall.” The tragedy of this world is the sin that separates us from our Creator God.
Deny it if you dare, but the evidence for the truthfulness of this statement is compelling: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6, NIV) Genesis tells us the story of decision, the choice to pursue Self over God that broke the perfect relationship. The snake hisses his invitation to ‘be like God. Take that which is forbidden.’ That fateful choice causes the Garden goes to weeds – in every sense. Yes, the weeds still grow in me, too!
Each one of us still makes momentous decisions, day in and day out.
The Spirit whispers, “Walk with Me.”
Self clamors for its own way.
Apart from the intervention of God, we have no choice for we are sold in slavery to sin. That is a harsh word, a conclusion much resisted by those who try to hang onto the illusion of humanity’s innate goodness in spite of so much evidence to the contrary. Of course there are momentary flashes of nobility, expressions of love that become those heart-warming human interest stories that end the network news. But, on the whole, the world has a dismal record – war, exploitation, greed, hate, lust, cruelty.
Paul says “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!” It is a grim assessment – in the grip of a power greater than our best intentions, marked by shame, destined for spiritual death.
Ah, let’s not stay there, however because the Story does not have to end with despair. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23, NIV)
The Curse is reversed in Christ Jesus, the Eternal God who became a Man, who entered into the broken world, drank the full cup of sin on our behalf as the Word says becoming “obedient to death— even death on a cross!” He defeated Death, rose again, and His triumph is our hope. Yes, through faith, we who long for love and life are invited to share in the salvation He purchased. We need not just dream about a new life, we can begin to live one in Christ, by the Spirit.
Do you know that Life?
Have you received the Good News of Christ by faith?
Then, you are part of the Divine Conspiracy to change darkness to Light, despair to Hope, ugliness to Beauty. It is not instantaneous. It is not without struggle. The complete realization of this new life awaits the revelation of the Kingdom. But, we enter it today.
The word from the Word encourages us to discipleship, to that process that brings the Truth to reality. Hear the Word. ” Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” (Philippians 2:12-16, NIV)
So, shed those tears that speak to the longing for what could be, then take the hand of Christ. You are called into His rule, a Kingdom of Love and Truth. Let Him make you a life-giver in a dying world.
God sent His Son they called Him Jesus
He came to love heal and forgive
He bled and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove
My Savior lives
Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives
How sweet to hold our newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days
Because Christ lives
And then one day I’ll cross that river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then as death gives way to vict’ry
I’ll see the lights of glory
And I’ll know He reigns
Gloria Gaither | William J. Gaither © 1971 Hanna Street Music (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management)
CCLI License # 810055