(click title for link to scripture)
As a Christian who grew up in a Christian family, I sometimes wonder about how tiny my Christian journey seems compared to others. I don't have an elaborate conversion story. I am a sinner, and have not always lived the perfect christian life, but I have since been forgiven and I seem to have fewer haunts and regrets because I chose to walk relatively close to my christian upbringing. But sometimes bad things happen, even entire days, weeks or months worth! The choices we make or the loved ones around us can bring us down, make us feel sad or angry or left licking our wounds. Thinking back on my own troubled times with depression, I find that God is showing me now that the point of hopelessness I got to is the same point a non believer is in who is dead in Christ. The difference being that I have a Light and know where to look for Him. But we often take Gods grace for granted, knowing it is there for us when we really get into a bind but living by our own accord in the mean time. Or the opposite, thinking our problems aren't big enough to warrant Gods attention.
Today in church the pastor was reminding us that we are all born hopelessly dead. To be physically dead is to have your body permanently separated from your soul. Your body, has no response to stimuli. Although it can be peaceful, I guarantee you it is never pretty. All that is left is an empty shell that sinks in limply shortly after the last breath as your muscles hold your shape no more, you are soon incontinent and a obscure color and an whiff rapidly sets in. You quickly take on a shape that does not resemble your former body as decay sets in.
Like wise in our spiritual death our soul is permanently separated from God. We are but a shell of what God intended us to be when He created us. We can be the nicest, cleanest, honest, philanthropist on earth... but we are still separated from God unless we accept Gods grace of forgiveness. Because despite our good characters, we all learn to hide things and we all fall into moments of selfishness and hidden sins known only too ourselves and God. It is easy to ignore the sin in our own lives when we are busy showing the world how good we can be. By not accepting Gods grace we are taking credit for all the successes of our lives,ignoring the fact that God is the one who created that very life in the first place.
But this is no better than a funeral homes expertise to cover up death, by embalming and makeup. Although they make you appear the same as when your body was alive, you are still not alive, and they can not at this point bring you back to life.
Pastor Mark Lowrie told us this story:
His son loved to collect "things" he loved to be out side and often came home with a collection of something carried in his pockets. One such day he collected caterpillars. He had no jar so he put them in his pocket to carry home. But he forgot all about them until he sat down to his supper. With a look of surprise in his eyes he stood up quickly, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a handful of squished, dead caterpillars. (A horrible sight at anytime but most unnerving at the supper table I'm sure!) Nothing his son could do, or say, or feel could make any of those caterpillars ever come back to life. Some where mangled beyond recognition, while others simply just did not move.
But what if God had reached into his sons pocket, and pulled out a handful of butterflies instead? How exciting the very transformation of a butterfly is to begin with! But to bring life AND change to something that was dead, what an amazing gift!And God offers this to all of us, a life that is changed and glorifying.
It's scary to think about death, and just as scary to dig up all our old sins and wrongs that we've hidden. But in death, which is going to happen to us all one day, is judgment. Unless you have laid all your heart and soul in this life at the feet of Jesus.....those sins, in death, are also going to be dredged up and punished.
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord (!)
Won't you let God pay for those things now, in this life, instead?