February 21, 2023
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV).
I’ve worked with him for years, through his aggressive cancer, allogeneic transplant, now doing well except for lung damage from the graft versus host disease. He always brings me homemade beef jerky that I hand off to those who love it. Today he had a special request: “I need a letter to go to the Philippines.” He had met a young lady online and had been online dating for four months, now planning to marry her there and bring her home to the U.S.
“What do you think, Doc?”
I told him it was dangerous medically with his GVH and O2 requirement. I convinced him of the danger for about 15 minutes, and then he said, “I’ve got to go. I’ve got to have this joy in my life.”
I ended it with, “I’ll pray for you, friend. It’s not a good medical decision.”
“I know,” he replied, “but it’s the right life decision.”
Have you ever made the wrong practical decision so you could make the right life decision?
There was a time that God found Himself in that situation, though He had planned it from the moment of creation. One of God’s very clear character traits is His justice: good should be blessed and bad should be punished (Daniel 4:37). God’s character of justice is part of the Imago Dei that He has placed in all of us. Though we often fail to act upon it, all humanity understands that good should be rewarded and bad should be punished. Civilization could not exist without this image of God in our lives.
Another of God’s character traits is His righteousness. Unlike the Roman and Greek gods, our only true God is completely pure and without sin, so much so that people with sin in their lives cannot survive in His presence (Exodus 33:20).
God is righteous. God is just. And God is love.
So, being just, and being righteous, and loving us more than we can imagine, God had a decision to make. How can justice, righteousness and love for humankind coexist, when all humans have chosen to go their own way? “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10, NIV).
God certainly could have decided in a practical way to destroy all of us and start over.
Or He could have just created us unchangeably righteous, but then we would be no more than puppets.
Or He could just pretend that we were righteous, but that would make a mockery of His character.
So, God chose not to be practical. Just like my patient above, God rejected the practical decision and made a life decision, a love decision. He received upon Himself the penalty for our sin and allowed the goodness of Christ to be our own if we trust Him. Now we are welcomed into His presence. We call that grace.
I fall to my knees and tremble at the price you paid to allow me into your presence.