1999-09-11 - Love Demonstrated
Rom 5:8-9 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (NAS)
I was talking with my boys the other night after reading a few chapters to them. Both boys have attended Sunday School and I have talked with them, read them Bible stories, etc. So I was a little surprised when my younger son was surprised by the idea of praying for our enemies. I have to admit that humanly it does not make sense at all. The idea of caring for this person who might be just as happy if I were never to have darkened his door is a little alien. But Jesus was our teacher and our example in this facet of living.
Humanity had walked away from God in the Garden of Eden. We had been given everything and threw it away in a single act of willful disobedience. Adam and Eve had been created in perfection and that had now been tarnished. Since God can not tolerate imperfection (call it sin if you have the courage) in His presence, Adam and Eve had to leave paradise. Humankind had fallen from perfection, which would be required to reenter paradise. An angel with a flaming sword was sent to guard the Tree of Life. If humanity were to eat from that tree as well, they would live forever in their fallen state. Sending the guard was an act of love to prevent that from happening.
But how does something that is imperfect return to perfection. By definition, it is impossible. If there is a flaw, unless the flaw can be removed totally, perfection is beyond attaining. In this case, the fault was locked in the past. But God is the God of second chances. Down through the ages there have been a stream of atonements and measurements given for man to covered past sin and guide him in his actions. The problem with the atonements was that once the past sin is covered, any new sin would have to wait for a new day of atonement. The problem with the measurements, like the Law of Moses, was that they were impossible to follow to the level of perfection required by God. Remember when Jesus corrected the Pharisees, saying that a man who even looked at a woman with lust in his heart was guilty of adultery with her. The articles of the law are so intertwined that breaking one breaks them all. For example, theft implies coveting, coveting would dishonor the upbringing of your parents; that breaks the direct command of the Father placing your authority before His, displacing His rightful place as God - you become a god in authority before Him.
Rom 5:10 For if while 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. (NAS)
How could we ever return to paradise then? The teaching of the Prophets and the Law all tried to show us that we could not do it alone. We needed a Savior. Jesus was a little more direct when he warned us that our very best efforts were filthy rags before the Father. Here Paul states the case clearly, we were enemies to God - totally separated. Now, here is the amazing thing in all of this. The Creator loved His fallen, rebellious creation so much that even when that creation fought to continue headlong to destruction, He intervened at fantastic personal cost on His own demanding nothing in return. His intervention on our behalf was so complete that there was nothing left to do. All that was required to make this rescue a reality would be to believe and accept His salvation. We are told that God even provides the faith to believe.
Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (NAS)
If that kind of love is within your mind's grasp, you are a better man than me. It is love beyond human comprehension reaching out to an enemy to restore a relationship while they continue to spout anger and threats against you. So, maybe my son's reaction is not so far off after all. And still Jesus calls us to this kind of love.
Luke 6:27-29 "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. (NAS)
Lord Jesus - Your love down through the ages toward mankind has been extraordinary. Open our eyes to see the myriad of things You have done to reach out to us showing us how much we need You. Thank You for never giving up on us. Amen.
Grace & Peace,