Our greatest problem in life is being relationally disconnected from God. The good news is that God has provided a way for us to be reconciled with him.
The Christian Scriptures, the Bible, tell us of this good news. This message of good news and the whole story of the Bible can be told in four movements: Creation, Rebellion, Reconciliation, and Restoration.
God created us and all that exists and he said that all of it was good. Human beings were created in God's image and likeness. We are not God, but in certain ways we reflect what he is like. His desire for us was to live under his care and protection as we love him above all else, love others, and care for his creation. The result would be that we experience rest, blessing, and life.
But we turned our backs on God in an act of rebellion.
The first humans created, Adam and Eve, were tempted by an agent of evil named Satan to become more than they were created to be. He said to them, "You can become like God." The truth was that they were already like God because they were made in his image and likeness in order that they might reflect what he is like. But Satan deceived them into thinking they could become more - that they could actually become God. They fell for his lie. They turned their backs on God and rejected his authority. They rebelled against their Creator.
We do the same thing today and fall for the same lie. God desires for us to love him above all else and in so doing find rest, blessing, and life. But we have turned our backs on him, each and every one of us. We go our own way. We love other things - money, power, status, possessions, appearance, comfort, control - instead of loving God. The Bible calls this sin and it has separated us from God relationally. God said clearly from the beginning that the cost of turning our backs on him would be death, not just physical death but spiritual death. God is our Creator and the giver of life so if we are disconnected and separated from him what we experience is the opposite of life: death.
Spiritual death feels like a restlessness in our heart and soul. It's the desire to be satisfied but not being able to find a well with good water in it. We were made to find rest and satisfaction in God and so our hearts are restless apart from him. And because we are trying to run our lives like we are God, we are exhausted. Being God is not the purpose for which we were created and so it feels like a burden.
Spiritual death is also the penalty for our rebellion and so we sense that something is wrong with the universe but we can't find the solution. Most everyone has an answer for what is wrong with the world and most everyone thinks they know how to fix it. But there is only one who can fix it.
Because we are separated from God relationally, we are in need of reconciliation.
Somehow the relationship needs to be mended. Relationships are mended through forgiveness. But forgiveness always comes at a cost. The penalty for turning our backs on God is death and so that is what we deserve. If we are going to be forgiven, someone else needs to take that penalty. When you forgive your spouse, your friend, your sibling, or parent, you are saying to them: "I'm not going to hold this offense against you and I'm not going to pay you back for it." But there is a cost to that. You are absorbing the damage they did to you and not making them pay for the damage.
The Bible tells us there is good news! God sent his Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our forgiveness. The cost of our offense against God - our rebellion, our sin, our loving other "gods" instead of him - was death. But God, in order to provide a way for us to be reconciled with him, absorbed the damage we did to the relationship. He sent his Son who took the damage and death we deserved. Instead of us paying for the damage, Jesus paid for it. He was nailed to a cross of wood on which he not only experienced physical suffering and death but the spiritual suffering and death caused by separation from God. This is why he came: to give his life as the payment to free others from the death they deserve. On a wooden cross 2,000 years ago, the cost of all our sins was laid on him. He took our place.
As with any relationship, forgiveness can be offered but not accepted. The offender may not desire to be reconciled and instead want to continue going their own way. Or they may try to reconcile by making it up to the other person to earn back their favor instead of accepting forgiveness. When it comes to God, both are equally destructive because with both we continue to experience spiritual death due to separation from God. Neither of these options repair the relationship.
Jesus did die, but he also came back to life. Jesus always did what was good, right, and perfect. He never turned his back on God. Because of this, it was not possible for death to hold him. He didn't deserve death, but he willingly laid down his life to take our place. God raised him to new life and now Jesus is seated as King of the universe.
Through what Jesus did, forgiveness was secured for all those who would accept it. Because of what he did in the past, we can be saved from the penalty of our sin today. That's good news! Even more, because he is alive as the Lord of life in the present, we can be saved from the power of sin too. We don't need to be held captive to sin and death and Satan's lies. We can experience new spiritual life because Jesus is alive to give it to us.
Jesus will return to fully restore us and creation.
Jesus will also save us from the presence of sin in the future. Jesus promised that he will return again and when he does, he will judge all humankind. Those who did not surrender their lives to him as their Lord will experience an eternity separated from God with no hope of reconciliation or liberation from spiritual death. Those who did trust in him will experience an eternity of sinlessness. In the present, we are given power to defeat sin but it is a battle. When Jesus returns, he will vanquish sin and death so that they are no more.
What's your response?
The Bible says that if we trust in Jesus as our Lord - our King - that we will be saved from the penalty of death we deserve. God has made a way for us to be reconciled with him by offering forgiveness. The way we accept that forgivness is by receiving Jesus as the King of our lives. This means everything we are and everything we have is surrendered to him as our King. We live a life pleasing to him. When we do this - when we turn from going our own way to follow his way and embrace him as our King - we are saved from the penalty we deserve for not loving God with all we have.
Do you see that you have turned your back on God and that you are experiencing spiritual death? Do you feel restless? Do you feel separated from something or someone bigger than yourself that you can't seem to fully connect with? Find life and rest in Jesus. Surrender your life to him.
If you have any questions, don't hestitate to contact Pastor Mitch by filling out our contact form. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call the church office phone at 815-575-9224.