The title above might sound horrible, but let me explain: I have been reading a lot about what it means to stand justified before God the Father because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I have always looked at it one-sided, from my point of view, from the point of view of what Jesus did for me, of how my sins are washed away and I can stand justified before God the Father. However, I never looked at it from God the Father's side. He gave His only begotten Son... It pleased Him (God the Father) to crush Him (Jesus) (Isaiah 53:10). That is what I have been coming to understand... that the totality of God's wrath was poured out on the Son. Not only did Jesus take my sin, but He took God's wrath... for me, for you, for humanity. Not because He was mad at Jesus, or because He was angry with Him or anything like that, but because sin required punishment. The holiness of God cannot, by definition, allow sin to escape without punishment. Justification means exactly that: the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.
Nothing I did accomplished that. Nothing you did accomplished that. Nothing anyone did, is doing, or can do will accomplish that. Only Jesus' death on the cross accomplished that. As sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God, we all deserve hell. But Christ took our sin, took God's wrath, and because of that, we stand justified before God the Father. I don't know if it means anything new to you, but that understanding has broken upon me in a fresh, yet completely humbling way.
How can I, then, not give my all to Jesus? How could I live my life like I am forgiven, but that it didn't cost anyone anything? How can I say I am a Christian but not follow Jesus? How can I put so many other things before my walk with the Lord? Did Jesus take my sin and take God's wrath so I could sing a few worship songs on Sunday, listen to or even give a message, and then go throughout the week worrying about me and mine? Did Jesus do all that so that my neighbor, who doesn't know Jesus, can remain in the dark, not justified because they do not know? Can I really justify all the material possessions I have, all the little hobbies and trivial pursuits and worthless trinkets and technological gadgets that I have when there are countries that do not have the Word of God translated into their language? Can I honestly pay money for pitiful, pathetic things knowing full well that there are children that do not have enough to eat? Can I be so blind as to not find the time to pray or help persecuted Christians? I am so safe in my justification that I do not have to hold up to the expectations of what a CHRISTIAN, A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST, should be and do?
And this is what bothers me. I rest assured that I am in right standing before God the Father because of the atonement provided for by Jesus Christ. I have the seal of ownership through the Holy Spirit. But for what? Jesus is not my ticket out of hell. He is so much more than that!!! How cheap we make His sacrifice, how we must break the heart of God the Father with our petty little sins, our pet transgressions, our hidden (or open) violations of God's grace and expectancy for our lives?
Did you know that there are Christians in some countries that refuse to call themselves Christians? They do so because they have been taught that America is a Christian nation, made up of mostly Christians. They do so because when the singer with nothing left to the imagination receives an award for their music they say, "I would first like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" as they then flaunt everything their mama gave them, speak of the filthiest things, and act in ways that draw no separation between themselves and a perverted animal, all while staunchly maintaining that they are Christians. Followers of Jesus in some countries believe that all American Christians have loose morals and are more worried about how they look and what material possessions they have than living for the Lord or following His Word. And they are absolutely right. Who in the world would want to associate their Savior with the depraved, perverted, disgusting, horrific acts that a majority of "Christians" have no problem letting the whole world see? Have we become so blind that we think that God is pleased with a people whom He bought with the blood of His Son that simply do not care about sin? O God, help us!!!
How sad it is that we tolerate sin in the church, in the body of Christ, because we do not want to offend anyone or, more importantly, we do not want to be offended. How much of a shame it is that by not confronting sin in the church, by not calling sin what it is, that we have lost the nerve to call sin in the world what it is. How else is the world supposed to know what sin is unless the Church stands and says, unanimously, "We have drawn a line in the sand: on this side is holiness, on that side is sin. We choose holiness!" No wonder many young people today find the church to be completely irrelevant; it is! If the church does the same things the world does, loves what the world loves, and seeks what the world seeks, all under the banner of Jesus Christ, then why would those of the world feel conviction, a need to repent, or believe in any way, shape, or form that they are not already justified and standing in right relation with God the Father?
What if we lived like Jesus' death on the cross not only bought our salvation, but took the wrath of God that was meant for us? Would it inspire us to live like Jesus? To live like Paul? Would it inspire us to get off the couch and actually share the GOOD news instead of keeping it to ourselves? Would we begin to understand the immense value that each and every soul has? Would we work hard to be the hands and feet of Jesus instead of being dead weight that drags His name into the mud over and over and over again? Would we seek to take the Gospel of Jesus to those who have not heard it, and continue to take it to those who have that have not yet accepted it? Would it move us from Sunday worship entailing all of what our Christian life is meant for and made up of to living like each moment has been redeemed by Jesus to use for His purpose and His plan, in accordance with the reconciliation of a fallen world to God? Would it inspire us to stop sinning like it doesn't matter, to confront sin in ourselves and others, to draw a line in the sand and begin to pull those on the opposite side of the line over to our side? Would it cause us to see that holiness matters and that Christ is coming back for a Bride without spot or wrinkle? Would it cause us to disciple ourselves and our children, instead of handing them over to the world through television, music, and social cesspools? Would it cause us to pray for our children instead of sending them to counselors or therapists, leaving someone else to fix the problems that we more than likely have caused ourselves? Would it cause us to value the name of Jesus Christ so much that we FEEL MOVED TO DO SOMETHING FOR THE KINGDOM?
It is almost like there is an alarm that we are waiting to go off so we can get up and go to work, having forgotten the whole time we have been sleeping that we were never supposed to have fallen asleep in the first place. I hate to say it, but for Christians who are waiting for an alarm, it will be too late to do much of anything once that alarm goes off. Of the ten virgins, five of them did not have their oil for the lamps. When the darkness came, they had to go in search of something to light their lamps. Because they had to leave to find it, they were not there when the bridegroom came. We all have a body that can be one of two things: lit or doused. Only those vessels that are lit will be there when the bridegroom comes.
I want to be ready. I want to live like I was bought with a price for a purpose, not of my own machination, but a purpose that was foreordained for me to fulfill. I want to live like Jesus took my place and took God's wrath, not so that I could be a fake Christian that cared more about the world that I do God's Kingdom. I want to live in a way that I am aware of what Jesus did for me, and that because I am aware of that, there is nothing I could do other than give my all, my everything, to Him and His purpose. I want to live with oil in my lamp.
So, Father, I pray that You forgive me, I have not known what I have done, until now. I pray that You redeem the time I have wasted, the people I have looked over, the times when I was too busy or too concerned with myself to offer words of life and encouragement to those you brought into my path. I ask forgiveness for the days I have wasted doing nothing for Your Kingdom. I ask forgiveness for the times I have handed my children over to the world instead of choosing to listen, teach, instruct, or pray for them. I ask forgiveness for the pet sins that I have chosen to tolerate versus confront. I ask forgiveness for the times when I chose to be weak and not confront sin. I ask forgiveness for any time that I was more a part of this world than I was a part of Your Kingdom. But most of all, Father, I ask forgiveness for not fully understanding or realizing what it is that Jesus did for me on the cross. Let me live each and every day, from this day forward, burning with a passion and desire to share the Good News with those around me; to pursue holiness like it matters, because it does; and to be submissive, obedient, and willing to follow Your will and Your Word. Help me wake up from my slumber, Oh Lord. Light my lamp. In the name of Your precious Son Jesus I pray, Amen.