I am a sinner. For those of you who do not share my faith, please understand that I offer this meditation only to my brothers and sisters, though feel free to participate. I don’t think anything I say is meant for anyone except for those who voluntarily submit to the authority of God and or His son Jesus Christ.
As I said, I am a sinner. My rebellion against God’s just law created an insurmountable barrier between myself and Him. For all intents and purposes, I was dead to God save for the part where I quit moving and the ambulatory plant my carcass into the ground.
Though I was for all intents and purposes dead, God still loved me. He wanted to end that separation, he wanted me alive. With Him. For eternity. His Son was willing to make the payment for my sin so that could happen.
This last Good Friday we celebrated the 1977th anniversary of Jesus of Nazareth choosing the death of Roman crucifixion over the rights and privileges that were rightfully his as the Son of God. I believe that by dying, experiencing death for three days, and returning to life he put paid the penalty I owed to God for my rebellion. All I have to do is surrender, and exchange my various and sundry false gods for service to the True and Living God.
Corrie Ten Boom hid Jews during the Holocaust. She lost members of her family to the Nazis for her trouble. I heard a recording of her noting that God would have more friends if he treated the ones he had better.
During the plague years in ancient Rome, the Christians were compelled by their faith to care for the dying, typically at the cost of their own life. My forebears believed that a life of service and sacrifice at the time of need was their “reasonable service” to borrow a phrase from the Great Apostle.
Queen Esther of the Hebrew scriptures – which I believe are authoritative upon my life – could have simply stood by while others were at great risk of death. Haman had conspired to trick the Babylonian King into signing a law allowing the lawful slaughter of her fellow Jews. By approaching the King without being summoned, she risked being struck down by the palace guard. As an interesting note, Esther secured a law that gave the Jews the right to self defense against attacks by their gentile neighbors.
I said all that to say this. Even as I did not learn to swim in order to be a lifeguard I don’t think I could be true to Christ and stand idly by while my neighbor drowned. While I did not arm myself in order to protect anyone but myself and my loved ones, I do not think I could be true to the enormous sacrifice my Savior made for me if I stood by while someone I thought was otherwise innocent was in great peril.
I do not think the myriad examples in scripture, and in the history of the faithful throughout the ages were given to me so I could ignore the innocent in peril.
By being prepared for that awful moment when our life is imperiled by evil, we are also prepared to help our neighbor. We may be prepared to do for them what they cannot do for themselves. In so doing, I believe we reflect the very Good News of Jesus.
My wife could be widowed, my children orphaned. I could be sent to jail for the rest of my life due to a well-intentioned error in judgment. Still, for me, my beloved older brother did not think twice before leaping to my rescue and paying an unspeakable price for my salvation.
I want to die an old man, surrounded by my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I want to be sorely missed when I am gone. However, I want to be missed because I was a good adopted son of God who reflected the love and sacrificial qualities of God’s first and only born son.
I don’t believe I can do that and make myself safe from misfortune and heartbreak. I cannot serve without risk, and my faith does not indemnify me against calamity even when doing His work.
The best I can do is be prepared, be wise, and pray that God would give me the good sense and insight I need to bring Him glory and honor. I’ll probably screw it up, but God will know my heart, and that’s what will matter long after I am dust.