Wednesday in the Word
Good afternoon! I hope this week has been a week of restoration for you all. For me, this week has been a week of dying to myself. Yes, I know it sounds dramatic, but what do you expect from someone who was an active Drama Club member?
This week, will be a break from Psalms, because there has been a verse that has been pressing in my heart urgently to share.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16
This is a verse that is often quoted by Christians when they are evangelizing, as it is probably the the easiest way of wording the basic foundation of our faith. This one sentence seems so simple, and yet it is saying a lot.
Someone recently told me that I am full of lies and false teachings, because God is a God of hate, not love. This person said a lot of things that contradicted the very core values of what I know Christianity to be, and it challenged me to dive deeper into what it is that I believe, and to really seek His Word and let Scripture defend itself.
In the end, the only conclusion that I could draw was that God is a God who loves. It's true: He hates sin, and His wrath was brought against people again and again over sin. He knows as imperfect humans, our hearts are full of brokenness, and are incapable of leading sinless lives. Because of our sin, man made sacrifices upon sacrifices to be cleansed, but were still so far from God. Because He loved us and wanted to draw us nearer, He gave His only Son as the ultimate sacrifice to bridge the gap between us. The saying "history repeats itself" is evident in the Bible. I'm a literature junkie, and God has already shown us what He was going to do for us in the Old Testament.
In Genesis 22, God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son born from his barren wife. Abraham takes Isaac to be sacrificed, but instead, God provides a ram to take Isaac's place. This is the parallel to God sacrificing His only Son to be the one who takes our place.
How can this act of ultimate sacrifice be anything less than love? He should be and can be worshiped by all, yet He lets us freely choose whether or not to follow Him. His Word should be obeyed regardless, and yet He doesn't look to our actions, but our hearts. We should be sentenced to death, and yet He extends mercy and grace by giving us a chance at life. Yes, you can argue that He killed everyone off and just left one family alive, but in doing so, He kept all His promises, and loved on us. He deigned and came as a human bean, living and understanding the ways we are tempted by sin. Even though he was sinless in both the eyes of the Law and law, He took the blame and died in the most humiliating way possible. Even so, He returned to share the love he stands for, rather than to seek vengeance against those who hurt Him. He even tells His disciples that they must tell everyone of the Gospel message: that He is God, and in believing, they will be with Him after death on earth.
How much more proof do we need that God loves us? Sure, we can't "see" God, but how else can life be explained? I remember after my father passed, my mother spent hours decorating and redecorating the shrine she has at home, because all her relatives and monks had different traditions in how to honour the dead to bring them safely to Heaven. I asked her why all of this is needed, if she believes my father lived as a good enough person to go to Heaven; she said that everything needs to be in place for him to rest well and give the rest of us good fortune. If it takes so much to be laid to rest, what of those who were murdered or forgotten? How can there be justice if our way to Heaven is paved by our own good works, and can be intercepted by a horrible death? Even more, I was convicted that the only way that the gates of Heaven can open and invite us in is through the Gospel message. There is no perfect human bean. We ourselves cannot make a way, and our surviving family members and friends cannot finish paving that road for us. That is why Jesus had to be the ultimate sacrifice to BE the bridge between us and God, and the only way He could have willingly took on the burden to be our sacrifice was through love.
My heart breaks for the person who believes that only believers can receive the grace and mercy of God, because it's not true. It is evident in Scripture that the Gospel message was not meant to only be passed on from parent to child as an inheritance, but as something to be spread far and wide, even from stranger to stranger -- love is meant to be spread throughout all nations. The Gospel is about a Saviour, not of a Condemner.