I’ve been thinking about sin and death today.
Yay! You say sarcastically. Way to be upbeat! Light Friday reading.
And you’d be right. Sin and death aren’t happy topics. In our culture, sin has become a dirty word. But they do come up over time. If you have a conscience at all, you will run into it. It will flog you. Sin can be intentional or unintentional, willful or not. You will let yourself down. You will hurt people by things you say or do, and vice versa. People you know and love will die during your stay here. Eventually, you will join them. Welcome to life. L’chaim!
My friend Brian wrote a thought-provoking blog today. He’s such a good writer anyway, but his written thoughts sort it all in digestible pieces. You can read it here. I’d like to use his ideas as a jumping-off point.
He outlines the way to become a Christian with three main points. I like three points because of the Trinity (three parts of the Godhead), three days for Jesus to experience death and resurrection and three points make a sermon. So there!
The first step to salvation is:
A) Admit you’re a sinner. Okay, no sweat. I have probably committed most of the 7 deadly sins in one way or another, not to mention broken a few commandments. I don’t say that lightly. It’s simply part of living with an imperfect nature. Like the time I made fun of a cross-eyed girl who lived in our neighborhood…and her dad heard me. Yeah. My sin found me out right quick that time. My sins – your sin – separate us from God (Romans 3:23).
B) Believe that Jesus is God. Kind of a strange idea, actually. I mean, isn’t God the only God? The Trinity remains a mystery. I don’t fully comprehend it. It’s always been interesting to me – and wonderful – that God would send a perfect replacement to die for me: His only son. Animal sacrifices never really got it done anyway; they provided a stopgap measure until Jesus came along (Hebrews 10). Only a sinless one could take our sin from us.
Right here, you might say, This is a bloody religion. Yes. But we don’t realize how much our sin keeps us from God. We reap death from it. Eternal damnation and division from God. That’s how bad it is.
C) Confess Jesus is Lord. Stating it aloud with witnesses present is a start. It’s living under His rule, day by day. It becomes joyful submission as His will for our life unfolds. He has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11).
As I’ve aged, I realized “born again” looks different on each of us. It’s less about the “don’ts” and more about the “do’s”. Our unique imago dei means we walk out our salvation (with fear and trembling) down different avenues. Sure, we may look good on the outside to others, but appearing holy will never wash with God.
Why in the world did God even do this? Why not leave human beings alone? They’re certainly messed up. Look at our world today, plagued by, well, plagues, famine, and wars. Why not wash His hands of the entire kit and caboodle? Deists think He did that long ago.
Relationship. He wants us to be near Him. He made us for it. He loves us. Giving us free will meant we could choose to love Him. I know. Honestly, free will seems like a mixed blessing. I think of it like giving a little boy a gun: “Here, Timmy. Got ya something special! Please read the instruction manual, or you’ll shoot yer eye out.” Robotic humanity would have been so much easier on us all.
Today, though, I’m grateful I get to choose.