I am spending this week waiting on our newest little one to arrive, so enjoy this old post edited from the archives and pray for a safe and quick labor and delivery, please!
There is a paradox in God’s dealings with us that I have trouble understanding.
There is this:
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5.8
And there is also this:
The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3.17
This is a hard paradox for me to accept: I am loved and delighted in by God AND I am why Jesus had to come and die.
It is all too commonplace around here for me to hear a thud followed by the cry of one of my little ones. Most often the culprit is a sister, who stands triumphantly clutching some coveted toy.
As I ask for wisdom to know how to teach my children how to love, I wonder how I can possibly teach my children this very thing that I don’t understand. How can I teach them that God created something wonderful when He made them while at the same time helping them to understand that their hearts are ugly with sin and they desperately need Jesus and His grace? How can I teach them to be confident and humble at the same time?
One without the other brings disaster.
If I teach only that they are beautiful and wonderful and children of the King, they become arrogant and self-centered, entitled to the best.
If I teach only that they are sinful and ugly in their hearts, they become depressed and mired in self-pity, losing all confidence in themselves.
How do I teach both humility and confidence?
I must learn it first.
Paul says this in Philippians:
…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. ~ Philippians 3.9
…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God. ~ Philippians 1.11
I am loved by God and He does delight in me…because He made me.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139.14
I am pure and clean before God and He does see me as righteous…because of Jesus’ blood.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. ~ Romans 3.22
All is gift.
Seeing the One behind my righteousness creates humility.
Seeing the cross in front of my sin creates confidence.
All is grace.
I turn and see my eldest giving my littlest one a toy and then a kiss. I smile, knowing that God is teaching their hearts and mine what it means to live a life of both confidence and humility in and through Him.
You have said that You will pour out Your Spirit.
You have said that You will pour out Your Spirit on us.
Have I ever experienced an outpouring?
I know that Your Spirit dwells in me.
I know that Your Spirit speaks to and dwells in me.
Do I have any idea what that truly means?
When You pour out Your Spirit, we will prophesy.
When You pour out Your Spirit, we will prophesy and have visions.
Am I missing out or is this promise for a later time?
If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in me,
If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in me and gives me power,
Then why do I fail so often?
If You have given Your Spirit to all who belong to Christ,
If You have given Your Spirit to all who follow and belong to Christ,
Please teach me what it truly means to live by Your Spirit and not by my flesh, because I do not understand.
“Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
And the people chose Barabbas.
I’ve always wondered why.
Why would they choose a murderer over a savior?
What would push them into making the choice of one who steals life over one who gives life?
We could talk about mob mentality; we could point out the way they lived under the sway of priestly authority.
We can never know for sure.
One thing we can know for sure, though:
They made the same choice that Jesus would have made, if the choice had been up to Him.
Jesus would have chosen to give Barabbas his freedom and his life, knowing that it would cost Him His.
It is what He chose for us.
It is hard to understand both choices: the choice of the crowd and the choice of Jesus.
Yet to understand both choices is to understand the gospel.
Frederick Buechner put it well when he said that to grasp both of these decisions is to “grasp what the New Testament says about Christ being our Savior and about people badly needing to be saved.”
God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.