A revolution usually starts with the kernel of an idea. In yesterday’s Catch I stripped the gospel down to its core so we could remember what we are starting with. I left out lots of things that are important but not essential. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). (Sorry about the King James English, but that’s the way I learned it.)
Three things stand out here. Forgiveness of sin, eternal life and the fact that what God did was all motivated by love. Love was the cause.
In the very beginning of the human race, sin entered the picture and the penalty for sin is death. The fact that we live 10 years, 25 years, 50 years or a hundred years is irrelevant; we all die. God could have ended it as soon as Adam and Eve disobeyed Him, but His love created a way to redeem the race through His son paying the penalty in our place thus ensuring a life forever with Him – what He was after in the first place. That life is the whole point. Getting people reconnected to God so they can live that life is the essence of the gospel. The fact that we can begin experiencing that life in this one is important, but it’s not the whole point. The fact that we, as the result of a relative amount of affluence, can make this life a pretty good one is probably more a hindrance than help. While we are doing that, there are a vast number of people on the planet for whom death is a welcome relief. Jesus said the poor and the hungry were more blessed than the rich and full because they see this and grab onto the hope of a better life in eternity. From an eternal perspective, who’s better off now, the rich or the poor? How do you think Christ would answer that question?
Does this mean we don’t care about the current state of affairs for everyone? Absolutely not. We love as God loves and Jesus did much to improve the physical condition of everyone He touched. He fed them when they were hungry, He healed them when they were sick, and even raised some from the dead, but this was not His primary purpose. Many of them got sick again, and most certainly, they all died. His primary purpose was to die in our place and put us in touch with His Father for the purpose of reclaiming the life we were meant to live with Him, both now and forever. When now fails, forever brightens.
Let me leave you with this thought, because I have watched Marti exhibit something through her work with the Isaiah House that I didn’t understand at first, but I am getting it now. She always said her real goal, more than to improve the lot of the homeless, was to put the volunteers who have wealth and homes in touch with their own poverty. I think I’m beginning to understand why.