By Janet Keefe
I was struck by a comment made by Mike Currier when he was preaching while Pastor was on vacation. Paraphrasing Mike, his comment was, basically, who would you give your life to protect? Your family, your friends, perhaps the vulnerable and the downtrodden. What about the wrongdoer? What about the person who doesn’t deserve your protection? What about the thief, the murderer, the rapist?
Oh, well, I’m not like them. I’m “basically a good person”. I deserve to be protected, to be saved, because I’m not that bad. I’m not like those others. They deserve punishment. Phew! It’s a good thing I’m not like them!
However, Jesus would disagree.
“God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him” – 1 Corinthians 1:28-29
Uh oh. What if I AM like those others?
My righteous deeds are as filthy rags, as it states in Isaiah 64:6. My haughtiness about my “goodness” is about as pleasing to God as, a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood. – Proverbs 6:17b. So, while I’m condemning others for their naughtiness or downright evil, I’m lumping myself right smack dab in the middle of the pack of “bad guys”.
The way I see it, God calls me to love and to forgive. Even when it’s, well, kinda impossible. Love my enemy (Matthew 5:44). Forgive 77 times (Matthew 18:22) ( I thought I had heard 70 times 7 before. Do the math, it’s a LOT). It’s awfully hard to do this. I don’t think it means that I continue to allow myself to be physically and emotionally abused; but, I understand that just as I am imperfect, so are others. As others are capable of sinful thoughts and deeds, so am I. I am called to love and forgive others. And others have the unenviable task of loving and forgiving me too.
Back to Mike’s original comment: who deserves protection, salvation? It turns out, no one deserves the sacrifice Christ made for all of us. Oddly, unbelievably, though, it’s a freebie. An amazing gift. Christ’s sacrifice is for a murderer, and for a pastor, for Mother Teresa and for a sadistic ruler. For some inconceivable reason, He freely gave His very life for all us undeserving souls. The ultimate sacrifice.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8
Nobody deserves grace. Yet, God eagerly waits to give His undeserved favor to anyone. Anyone who will receive it. Even me.