Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Do people run to you or away from you in times of trouble?

I was speaking with someone the other day who I was looking to hire for some work. In my discussion with her, I asked her if there was any problem with my running a background check on her. She stated quickly, "no".

She called me today and said, "I just want to tell you that I have done something that you'll see on the background check. I wanted to tell you in person but I was really ashamed. It was months ago and I don't want it to affect your view of my suitability for the job. But you'll see it and I wanted you to know that."

I felt that the job wouldn't put her in a situation that would be of temptation to her, so I wouldn't cause her to be in a compromising situation. I told her that it was "okay," and that she's not the first person to get herself in to trouble. I stated that her honesty was most important and that if she ever got in to trouble again, my wife and I would help her out in the best way we could.

As I was doing personal inventory regarding my reaction in this and other situations that came to mind, I thought of this phrase: "Do people run to you or away from you in times of trouble?" I was concerned that I didn't fully know the meaning of John 3:17, namely that Jesus didn't "come in to the world to condemn the world."

Too many times, our worldly tendency is to claim superiority over those who stumble and fall. Is it ignorance - that we've been taught something wrong about grace? Perhaps. Is it laziness - that we've not taken the time to search out the scriptures? Perhaps. Is it pride - that we supposedly haven't done something so heinous, when in fact, we just simply haven't been caught? Perhaps. I would suppose that it's a collection of things, something more prominent in each of us, and not as complex as we like to make it sound.

Contrary to our sinful nature, at the core of John 3:17 is something marvelous about God's grace. I'm sure we'll never have the opportunity to live it all out in one lifetime. I'm certain that we'll never know as much as we will want. But we will have countless opportunities every day to demonstrate the grace of God freely given to all mankind in Jesus.

God's grace that is poured out on us so lavishly that were we to fully recognize it, we should live and die differently. Just think of the scriptures. Jesus did not condemn Jerusalem - he wept over her. Nor did he condemn those who gathered at the foot of his own cross - he asked that they be forgiven. How he could have condemned!

Does God's justice stand firm? Will we see it undeniably upon Christ's return? Yes. And yet, we have a brief moment in time that God's grace is offered for all who will believe. How unsearchable are His ways!

If our lives radiate the joy of Christ and the fullness of His grace, we magnify Christ and we serve as "pointers" to Him. If that is true, when people get themselves in trouble, when they deeply see their need for grace, they will run to us and not from us. They will ask for the reason for our hope. They will ask for the reason for our joy, and we will be afforded the opportunity to tell them. The Word of God will go forth, they will hear and they will be saved.

For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.

Oh, that we would dwell on this truth.

God, thank you for your truth. Thank you that you did not send your Son into the world to condemn us. Thank you that you faithfully and lovingly offer your salvation. Thank you that your grace has gone into all the world through your Son, Jesus, through whom we are saved for all eternity. Amen.

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