This upcoming Sunday is the Fourth Annual Celebration of my 29th birthday. That’s right, I’m an April Fools’ baby. Thank goodness for 1 Corinthians 1:27 which states that “God uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
5-8″Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”(The Message)
It seems foolish that He would do that. Every person who has walked the earth has hated or rejected God at some point.
But Romans 5: 6-8 says “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possible dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This is crazy to our way of thinking, to our sense of justice. Who sacrifices themselves for their enemy? That would be…foolish.
Reflecting back over my life, I see the truth of the Bible so clearly played out. Though I heard that Jesus died for me, I chose to ignore God. I believed intellectually that there must be a God because of how amazing creation is, but I chose to put that to the back of my mind so that I could do what I wanted (sin) and not think about the fact that I might have to be accountable for my actions one day. My life was full of foolish decisions. My life seemed pretty well summed up by Romans 1:18-23.
“18-23But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. ”
The things we choose to worship instead of God don’t have to be actual idols like they had in the old days. They are often things which seem good to us: relationships, status, money, power, friendships, sex, partying, whatever. Even looking like a good, religious person can be something we desire above an actual life spent in daily relationship with the Living God. These things may bring pleasure for a little while, but they will ultimately never satisfy us because God created us, humans, to be in relationship with Him. When we aren’t, we will spend our whole lives trying to fill that void. If I just had ……….(you fill in the blank)….then my life would be complete. Whatever your answer is for that question is where your hope lies. If it is not in Jesus, who is the only one who has shown to have power over death and the power to forgive sin, then whatever you are hoping in will eventually fail you. All that is seen is temporary, but God is eternal.
When I was 25, I saw clearly for the first time that how I was living was absolutely destructive. For me. the consequences of sin were very evident and I was miserable. For some, life may look good on the outside, but for everyone, the truth is we are sinners and we will never be good enough on our own merit to stand before God at the end of our lives. As the movie Courageous pointed out, God doesn’t judge us for the good we did, but for the bad things we did. A good judge wouldn’t let off a murderer simply because he was a great neighbor his whole life. He would rightly be punished for his crime. God is fair, and He is merciful. These two truths show in the cross, where Jesus took our punishment for crimes WE committed. They may not be murder, but then again Jesus says being angry is murder. Lust is adultery. We are all…guilty. Jesus knew we were guilty and that there was nothing that we could do about it. So he stood in our place. The holy, righteous anger of God towards a people who willingly ignored and rebelled against their Creator was put on Jesus. He took our sin and gave us His righteousness. We can stand pardoned before God because our time has been served, so to speak.
This seems foolish. Even as I type it, it seems crazy. But..God is real. Jesus really did walk the earth, perform miracles, and rise from the dead, proving he was God. And so, what He says is true. He says that if you put your faith in Him as God, and ask His forgiveness, that He will save you. Then He will make you a new person, one who loves Him and is able to live life in a way that honors Him. We can NEVER do this on our own, so when this happens you can know for sure that God is at work in you. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. Since I decided to trust Him with my life, I have seen crazy changes in my heart and life, and seen God answer prayers so specifically that it can be no coincidence. People who knew me before God would never believe who I am now, and people who meet me now can’t picture who I was before Christ. That in itself is a miracle.
Because God is real, and because He is trustworthy, I am freed from a life lived in desperation trying to make it “worthwhile”. My life is worthwhile because I am where I was created to be: in the arms of my Father, close to His heart. And I have met so many people whose lives have been pulled out of the gutters and made beautiful. These people are quite literally, though not biologically, my family. We are bound together by our love for Jesus and what He has done for a bunch of fools like us. My life is worthwhile because I get the amazing privilege of telling others how good God is and that He wants to be their Daddy too. It’s not an easy life, because I am still a sinner. I still struggle, and I still forget to trust God. Daily. But because I know God is legit, I rest in His finished work on the cross, and not on my own failures.I am not saved because of my actions, I am saved through HIS. I am different, and I desire to be holy like He is holy. I don’t want to sin anymore, because it hurts me and it hurts God to see me do it. .But I didn’t change my own heart. He did. He does the job of transforming your life. You can’t. I couldn’t. Some will never accept Christ as Lord. They will spend eternity as they did life on earth: separated from the love of God. That would be really foolish.
Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
Nothing else matters. True love, true peace, and true joy are waiting for anyone who would turn from their sin and give their lives over to Him. He is good and you can trust Him. Let go of your hurt, your chaos, and your destruction and be made new. It’s awesome. Whatever is holding you back from trusting Him, I pray you would have wisdom to see that it’s not worth forfeiting the eternal reward of a life spent in the presence of God. We are not promised tomorrow, so take advantage in the mercy offered today.