But God Demonstrates His Own Love

The difference between the way of Jesus and every religion under the sun is two words: But God.

Reconciliation is a theme familiar to us, especially in times marked by social hostility. Deep down, we long to see old grievances put aside, enemies become friends, and social harmony established.

Reconciliation is a also major theme of Scripture — one that stands out particularly in Romans 5:6-11

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Here, the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, reminds us that the most important kind of reconciliation we could ever experience is reconciliation with God Himself.

Owning Up to Our Helpless State

In just these six short verses, God gives us plenty to be offended about. He calls us ungodly and sinners and His enemies, and perhaps worst of all, speaks of His wrath.

Westerners tend to roll their eyes at themes like this — especially the theme of God’s wrath or judgment.

But is it possible that Westerners have a blind spot?

The vast majority of the world’s population is on the receiving end of incredible injustice. To those who suffer injustice, the idea that God will judge the world is not uncomfortable — it’s totally fair; it makes sense; it’s a relief and a source of hope.

God will judge the world. This is what the Bible says. It is also a truth that makes sense of all the injustices of history and the injustices that continue still today.

When God does judge, He will finally right all wrongs. Every cry of “that’s not fair” will at last be heard and answered.

But there is something we Westerners must be careful not to miss. God cares about justice so much that He is not just going to judge oppressive systems and corrupt governments and greedy corporations — He is going to judge individuals, too.

It is a truth that hits close to home.

Yes, all of us have been victims of injustice in one way or another. But each of us have been perpetrators of injustice, too. 

The lies we’ve told, the things we’ve quietly stolen, the gossip we’ve spread, the thousand little selfish choices we’ve made — these are not “victimless crimes”. They have caused injustice and hurt and offence for others.

More importantly, in acting unjustly, we have hurt and offended God. He is ultimately the one we have wronged.

It makes more sense now why Scripture describes us with words like ungodly and sinner and enemies of God.

That’s our biggest issue in life. We have lived out our days as enemies of God. We don’t have peace with Him — the one thing we need most.

The Two Best Words in the World

The solution to our hostility with God is not what most people would expect.

Human are inherently religious, and have attempted to solve this problem with many different religious answers. The Buddha has his eightfold path. Islam has its five pillars. Hinduism teaches the way of release. Judaism’s answer is obedience to God’s law.

But none of these will do. All depend on human effort and success, when we have already established humanity’s spiritually helpless condition.

The world’s religions claim that if we can just perform the right rituals, believe the right things, and try our best, we might eventually find enlightenment, or make it to paradise, or experience union with Brahman, or somehow win God’s favour.

With Jesus, it is the total opposite. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. No amount of effort or striving or obedience will ever make us right with God.

There is one massive difference between the way of Jesus and every religion under the sun. It’s these two words: But God.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

At the heart of every religion is human effort. At the heart of the Christian gospel is God humbling Himself, becoming a human, and dying on a cross to save humanity.

No Longer Enemies But Friends of God

The cross where Jesus died is the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen. The cross is where the love of Christ overcame the hatred and rebellion of humanity. The cross is our hope. It is where all of our striving ends. It is where we find peace with God, and life that lasts forever.

In this world, reconciliation happens when both sides are willing to make concessions.

But with God, it is a unilateral decision, a completely one-sided choice. God sacrificed His only Son to end our hostility with Him forever. That is a different kind of reconciliation — it is unconditional, and truly amazing.

Now that God has intervened, our situation is a complete contrast to what it was.

We have been justified, Romans 5:6-11 says. We have been made right in God’s sight, saved from His wrath, reconciled to Him. In short, we have become God’s friends.

This is what Jesus has won for us, and why it is so important that we are trusting in Him, not in ourselves or our own effort.

As the great reformer Martin Luther declared:

So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Image via Unsplash. Originally published at the Daily Declaration.

3 thoughts on “But God Demonstrates His Own Love

  1. Hi Kurt. You have very subtly and probably very cleverly separated the idea of ‘Following the way of Jesus’ from the idea of ‘religion’, including Christianity. Is this deliberate?
    If so, can you tell me what, in your view, defines a ‘religion’?

    1. Hi Rob, thanks for the question. Christianity is a religion insofar as it is a way of life informed by a spiritual outlook. Many times I have referred to Christianity this way. But there is also a popular understanding of religion as a means of self salvation, which Christianity most certainly is not. This is the case I made in the section “The Two Best Words in the World” above. Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply