“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world
but for those whom you have given me,
for they are yours.”
A couple days ago I wrote about how a group of us were amazed at our lack of faith. I wrote about how Jesus taught that faith the size of a mustard seed will grow into something quite fantastic. I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about how little I understand God’s love for me. For that matter, how little I understand the cross, too.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the creed. I can recite it by heart through years of repetition in a liturgical church. No, what I’m missing is the enormity of it all. It’s like trying to comprehend the vastness of space only to realize that the same dimensions are in the inverse when we look into the structure of atoms. Just as we don’t see the limits of big, we don’t see the limits of small.
For example, I find it hard to come to grips with the magnitude of sin. God made creation and called it good. He then made man and woman in his image and called it very good. One attribute he gave was choice. Now I thought choice was with regard to the fall, but it was before that. God gave Adam the right to name all the birds and animals. That was choice. It was when man was presented with a restriction that things went all wrong.
I’m not going to go down the path of blaming God for making a bad decision. Paul asked that question, rhetorically.
Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
Just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t fit into a plan that is good, pure, and holy by a God who is infinitely wise and knowing. No, God had good reasoning for the fall and everything that happened as a result.
It’s difficult to ponder just how pervasive sin is and how it has permeated every nook and cranny of our lives. We are annoyed at pests like the Asian beetle or noxious weeds such as quack grass and thistles, but these aren’t everywhere. Sin is everywhere we look. The only reason we may think otherwise is that we have become so numb to sin that it appears invisible. Doesn’t Isaiah tell us that even our good deeds are filthy rags because of our sin? Spend some time thinking about that one, will you?
Sin such a problem that every single person ever created has permanently lost his/her home in the Garden. By choice. Intentionally. With full knowledge. And, without excuse. (Romans 1:20) We all are amused by movies that depict an adult standing at a crossroads pondering whether to follow good or evil. Folks, we all blew that test early in life. It isn’t like the movies where all is well until that one day when we are presented with sin. No, we are presented every day and have sinned so many times that it would be impossible for us to even count the number.
Furthermore, it’s not just our own sin that is the problem because we have a compounding effect for all the harm we do. Thinking that I am teaching my kids well, I have actually taught them by example how to hate God. Truly, that is what I have done. Yes, I have tried to teach them good things, but I must remember the filthy rags of Isaiah. That’s God’s view of me. Truly.
Now, that is not to say that mankind is as bad as it could be. God has a hand of restraint on our sin. If he didn’t, we likely would have self-annihilated our species long ago. How does he restrain us? John MacArthur outlines four ways that God does this. First, he restrains individuals with conscience, the knowledge between right and wrong. While we can destroy this over time, conscience certainly keeps us from doing things we know to be evil. Second, we have family. We train a child to do good and not evil. Like I said in the last paragraph, I do teach them by example to hate God. Even so, God uses me as a restraining force for evil as well. Third, we have civil authority which has the power to punish whether through fines, incarceration, or even death. Lastly, we have the church which is the spiritual restraint. God uses the church to save sinners and impact society at large.
It is apparent that humans are bent on destroying these restraints, and God allows this to happen. We saw sexual perversion dig in the 1940s through the deliberate fabrications of the Kinsey Reports, Roe v. Wade, divorce, and even through the church in accommodating, celebrating, and embracing sexual sin. It’s simply horrifying when you step back and really look at it. And we do it all intentionally, fighting God all the way so that we might exercise our “choice” and have our “freedom.”
God knew all this would happen. He knew it all before the first building block of the first atom was created. He also knew that he would pluck a remnant out of this whole mess as his own that he would present to Jesus as a bride. Jesus knew this, too. And, they both knew that Jesus would be required to pay dearly to fix the problem with that gift. If trying to grasp the size of the universe is like trying to comprehend the magnitude of sin, then trying to understand the free gift of Jesus is like trying to fathom the infinity of the small of atoms.
It blows my mind.
Father, help me understand. It is there in front of me. I am a fool to ignore it. Make me wise by taking me down this path. I want to know more and more about you. Show me. Amen.
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash