Monday, March 20

Owies on the Inside

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. --Ephesians 2:4-5

As I was returning to my car upon exiting the grocery store the other day, I overheard a young child ask her mother what the blue lines and the funny picture painted on the ground (i.e. handicapped spaces) were for. The mom answered that the funny picture was a drawing of a wheelchair and that people who are in wheelchairs need to be closer to the door of the store. She continued to explain by saying that not everyone who is disabled is in a wheelchair. She told her daughter that people have "owies on their insides" and those people may park in those blue places too if they have that same funny picture on their license plate.

The woman's remark about people having "owies on their insides" really stuck with me. I thought about how true that is, not just in a physical sense, but in a spiritual one. The condition of all humanity is such that we are born with natural sin.

Some people like to believe that even though we are sinful creatures, we can somehow make up for our shortcomings by earning God's favor. They think that if we do enough nice things for other people or live a basically "moral" life, then God will overlook our failure to be holy. This way of thinking is by and large the basis for other religions and their moral/spiritual requirements. People of that mindset think their good deeds or actions are the equivalent of a handicapped placard in the spiritual sense--by hanging their morality from the rearview mirror, they get to park closer to the entrance of heaven.

This way of thinking, although not uncommon even among Christians, is unbiblical. Our sin renders us unable to enter God's presence. As sinners we are more than just disabled. Yesterday our pastor quoted on of Covenant College's professors as saying that "we are not basket cases; we're casket cases." We do not have a disablity because of our sin, we have a complete inability to come to God on our own. We are dead in our transgressions. Pardon the expression, but Professor Stephen Hawking* stands a greater chance of competing as a rower in the next Olympics than we do of getting into heaven without God's mercy.

It is only through Christ that we are relieved of our sinful condition. Our "owies on our insides" are not just treated on a symptomatic level. Our inside owies manifested as horribly painful wounds on Christ's body as He hung on the cross at Calvary. The death we should have experienced as punishment for our sins, was endured by Jesus. Because of his great sacrifice, because of God's great love, we are made alive with Christ. It is by grace we have been saved.

*before ALS had dramatically affected him, Stephen Hawking competed on Oxford's intra-mural coxing and rowing teams.



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