Saturday, December 18, 2010
"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man 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." Romans 5:7-8 (NIV)
If there was someone who was suffering, experiencing some sort of terrible, unthinkable pain, or perhaps they were about to die; and there was some way you could save them, would you?
I can't imagine anyone in their right mind who wouldn't answer yes. Who wouldn't? God has instilled the desire deep inside the human heart to help others who are suffering. You may not think of yourself as being very compassionate, but ponder this: Would you not inwardly detest the sight of another human being in pain? Even if you couldn't help them yourselves, or didn't particularly desire to help them yourselves, you would at least hope that someone else would help them. You would just hate to think of them staying in that miserable condition.
Consider this: If you could save someone from pain or death, and there was absolutely no inconvenience or trouble on your part to do it, would you? (I mean that to its truest sense: absolutely none at all, not even the faintest, faintest hint of inconvenience or trouble; in a way that probably doesn't even exist in real life.)
Of course you would! Probably even the least compassionate person would jump at the opportunity.
Now let's change things a little: What if you could save someone from pain or death, but it would come with a price? There would be sacrifice involved?
Some people might still jump and say "Yes", but most people would want to first know -- and rightly so -- what level of sacrifice would be required. Is it just a little sacrifice? Then perhaps. Is it a big sacrifice?
Hmm... I might need to think that one over, they'd say.
You see, humans are wired to care about each other, but because we're in a fallen world and we have a sin nature, that desire to help has limitations. We will only go so far. We are only willing to sacrifice so much. If we are given a clear cut option to either care for ourselves, or to care for someone else, our flesh is much more likely to care about ourselves. I'm not saying that sin nature can not be conquered through God's help; I'm just saying it's a simple fact about our behavior.
Now, let's change the situation again. What if you could save someone from pain or death, but there was great sacrifice involved. Say, the sacrifice involved enduring the worst form of pain and suffering in the history of the world. And, to top all that, the person didn't even deserve to be saved! Let's also say that the only reason you're doing this is on the basis of love, even though the person doesn't love you at all. They may not even like you. Would you do it?
I can't imagine anyone in their right mind who would.
Maybe deep inside, we wish we would. We may secretly desire to be that heroic. But what human in their own power could make such an unimaginable sacrifice?
This is exactly what Paul was talking about in Romans 5, when he said, "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die." We might be able to imagine sacrificing something very valuable -- maybe even our lives -- for someone who deserved it. But could we die for Hitler? Kublai Khan? Queen Mary? Fidel Castro? Because we loved them?
But this is what Jesus did for us: "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." No one could make the sacrifice I outlined above -- enduring the worst suffering in the world for someone who didn't deserve it -- except for God Himself. Can you imagine what sort of love He must have for us, to die for us in the way He did, when we didn't even deserve it? Not only is it a love that no human has, does, or ever will possess; it is a love that no human was, is, or ever will be able to comprehend. It is a love that is beyond us; something we could never grasp.
How amazing to think that that is the love God has for us.