18th September 2011

God With Us

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Romans 5:9-10 (NIV UK)

It’s over a year ago now since the miners trapped underground in Chile captured the hearts and imagination of people around the world. Utterly helpless to do anything about their plight themselves, they had no choice but to rely on the efforts of others who worked day and night to rescue them.

In many ways, the plight of the miners is an allegory of the spiritual condition of all humanity. Spiritually speaking, all of humanity has been trapped in a life-threatening environment. The Bible calls it “sin and death.” As with the miners, we are utterly helpless and unable to do anything about our dire predicament. Just as the cave-in cut off the miners from the outside world, sin is a barrier, keeping people from the life God created them to have. But there is good news—a rescue is under way.

I’m sure that as they waited for rescue, the miners explored their options. They had picks, shovels and some quite sophisticated mining equipment. Couldn’t they dig their own way out, they must have wondered? But the reality was that no amount of work on their part would have been enough. They were in too deep. For them, the only hope was help from above, from those who cared.

What a great relief it must have been when, after 17 days of being cut off from everything, that first narrow borehole broke through. Although it wasn’t large enough to get them out, it was a means by which food, air, and news could reach them, as well as a source of hope and encouragement through the long months of waiting. Each of these boreholes was like the gospel—a conduit through which God sends us the good news of our rescue from sin and death, together with sound spiritual nourishment and hope.

Sadly, the gospel is often misused to spread a negative message of condemnation, fear and spiritual intimidation. It’s like sending the trapped miners a steady stream of information about what is going wrong and how bad their situation is, and then demanding evidence that they fully understand their plight, that they really want to be rescued, and even that they start living as though they are already on the surface before the rescue can proceed.

Jesus didn’t wait until human beings proved anything. He died and rose for us while we were still sinners, Those who believe that good news, the gospel, can see past the gloom of the moment and know that the joy of rescue is ahead. The gospel is good news, not bad news. It’s all about grace and truth and hope, not fear and worry and uncertainty. After all, that’s why the angel told the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Heavenly Father, your New Testament is full of the good news that Christ died for us and that we have been reconciled to you through his death. But still, Father, we find such kindness, mercy and compassion, difficult to grasp. It’s not the way we would have done things—and for that we will forever be thankful to you. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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