“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
This passage from the Bible pretty much says it all doesn’t it? I was made aware of this passage in a bible study yesterday, and have been reading it over and over since. What a beautiful expression of what Christ did for us on the cross. Paul has a way of explaining the human condition, our path to death as the wages for our sins, and how we are saved through and only by the grace of God.
The first verse clearly explains the love of Jesus. Note that it does not say that Jesus died for the godly, or holy, or even good. It says He died for the weak and ungodly. This verse alone should tell us everything we need to know about ourselves. As sinners, we are weak. We cannot do it alone. Nothing we ever do can save us from God’s wrath. Only the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross can accomplish that.
Another very interesting part of the passage is where it says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The pastor leading our bible study put it well when he said that we should picture the Roman soldier with the mallet and nail in hand, riveting our Lord’s wrists to the cross. He died for him too. God does not distinguish between that sinner and us. He died for all of our sins. Even Paul, who once persecuted Christians, was saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ’Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ’Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
The passage above clearly shows us what Jesus expects of us. Jesus knows our limitations, our weakness, our imperfections. So gives us a very clear path to salvation. He asks that we believe in Him, and that we trust Him. If we do, we will end up in “paradise” with Him. It is interesting in light of this passage when I read an article about Brad Pitt (click here to read) where he talks about his Christian upbringing as being “stifling”. I find it really sad. Unfortunately, there are many that have strayed from Christianity for similar reasons. I think in many cases, it is due to other Christians that may have wronged them, or misunderstandings within the Christian body. But I would say to those people that the words of Jesus are very clear.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I don’t know what Brad Pitt’s life was like as a child, and why he strayed, or why he ended up considering Christianity to be “stifling”. As for me, I have never felt more free in my life. Knowing that I can come to terms with my imperfection, with my fallen nature, and give the power back to the one who has always had it in the first place, that is anything but stifling. I put my trust where it should be – in Jesus. For the first time in my life, I don’t have to be the hero. I don’t have to be the one in charge. I surrender my life to Christ, and I let Him take the wheel. I can follow Him, knowing that no matter where He takes me, it will lead to the same place in the end, His kingdom.
He grants His kingdom to me because I believe in Him, trust Him, and because of His undying love for His creation. It is not because of anything I will ever be able to do, because I will never be able to earn my way to Heaven. I am a fallen creature, and as such can only be given this gift of eternal life through the grace of God. The moment I think I am worthy, it becomes about me, instead of Him. Stifling? On the contrary. I am now who I was always meant to be, a child of God, a follower of Jesus Christ, and heaven bound. There is nothing less stifling, and more liberating than that.
I am truly free.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”