…because you don’t have to.
After all, if I needed to earn God’s favor why did Jesus have to die?
I was amazed to hear that the woman who waited on my table yesterday said “I pray for everyone I meet.” I asked her how she did that and she said, “I just bless everyone–God bless you, and God bless you, and God bless you…”
I asked her, “do you know how that works?” “How what works,” she asked.
I said, “What I mean is, do you know how God blesses people?” She said, “He blesses people when we do good.” Which seemed to me to undermine the whole idea of asking God to bless someone if it requires them to be doing good in the first place.
The point is this: God doesn’t bless anyone just because someone asks for it. Blessing comes from God in and through Jesus Christ alone. As I said, if I needed to earn God’s favor, Jesus didn’t have to die. All other ground (as the hymn says) is “sinking sand.” Or, to put it another way, all other ground is the basis for cursing, not blessing.
I didn’t get a chance to explain it further to my waitress; she did admit that Jesus was “very important.” But I’m not sure she knew why and if I had time, and she wasn’t working, I would have explained to her that Jesus died to pay for my sins because I couldn’t. He could. And did.
What His death accomplished mine could never have done: his death fully satisfied divine justice. On the cross, hanging between two thieves, crying out in agony and pain.
See him taking my sin upon himself and paying for it?
See him forsaken of God?
See him smitten not only by whips but by wrath?
But not forever. Satisfied ends with ED–he satisfied divine justice and how God regards Him with satisfaction and joy and delight!
Now he is raised from the dead.
Now he ascends to the Father house where he is crowned and honored as The Obedient Son.
Now he sends His spirit to me as a guarantee of our mystical union.
Now he is pouring out prayers on my behalf. Praying not only for me but praying in my place when I can’t or won’t pray.
Now he is sending me gifts of strength and love and power that I might experience His life now, not just in the future.
And he is coming back for his whole church to which I am joined by faith.
Trying to earn God’s favor, then, is not only silly, it is impoverishing, because all these things come to me only through Christ, who has made me beautiful instead of ugly in His sight.
God bless me–in Him.