Advent 4: Saved!
Today is the last in the series of meditations for Advent. I'll post again tomorrow!
Advent 4: Saved!
‘But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been righteoussed by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.’ (Romans 5:8-9)
God is angry with our sin. And if we are honest, we will admit he has every right to be. We all know, don’t we, that we have done things of which we are ashamed? None of us would welcome having our past lives displayed on a screen for all to see. We all know that the world we live in is full of wickedness, cruelty, and injustice. We are angry with our sin. The difference is that we have no power to do anything about it. We are weak and helpless trapped by the very thing that we condemn in others and in our world.
We are not always conscious of this helplessness but it finds a sub-conscious outlet. Our despair expresses itself in our behaviour: in our cravings and addictions; in our longings for power, money, and control; in our desire for sex, for food, for slimness, for meaning, and for pleasure. We know all is not well. Life seems hopeless. We feel helpless. We search for help and for meaning. But to no avail.
‘For while were still weak, Christ died for the ungodly.’
And this is the Bible’s message of salvation. The message that we have rejected as irrelevant or have tried to change to meet the needs of the hour.
‘For I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power for God to salvation.’ What is the Gospel? It is the good news concerning Jesus Christ whose birth we are about to celebrate. Yes, God was and is angry with us. Yes, God is the Judge before whom we all must appear. Yes, we must face the consequences of our actions. But God the Judge is also God our Creator. And because he created us, despite what we have done, are doing and will do, he still cares for us.
Any parent must know this feeling. Your son or daughter has done something of which you really disapprove, something which really makes you mad, but even so, you would die for him or her if you had to.
Well, God has.
He is not a detached observer who has no understanding of our plight or condition. He is one who has become one of us and has experienced it all. Did he have to do this? No. Why did he do this? Because even though our behaviour angers him as – let’s face it - it angers ourselves, he still loves us and cares for us.
This Christmas it’s a straight choice: go on as we have been doing, trying to run away and avoiding the consequences of our actions and behaviour, or admit we need help. The help we need lies in a manger.
What do we have to do to receive this the greatest of gifts? How do we find the help we so desperately need? This was the question a prison guard asked St Paul when he had given up all hope. The answer, the same then as it is now, is both simple and profound: Have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.