Drowning in the Deep End

One aspect of life over which we assert no control whatsoever is the historical era in which we’re born. If you’re reading this, (and you’re less than 2000 years old), it’s a safe bet you’re aware of a certain Savior who died on a cross to secure our forgiveness. Even if you don’t believe it’s true, it’s likely you’ve at least heard of Jesus.

Yes, I’m stunningly adept at stating the obvious, but there is a point here. Imagine we were born before Jesus came and purchased our forgiveness. To again state the obvious, we wouldn’t have grown up with the knowledge of a Messiah through whom God created a way to be reunited with Him. We’d still be shouldering the burden of our own sin … with all the guilt, shame, fear and hopelessness that accompanies it. You’d think the overwhelming weight of this fact alone would be the point of this piece, but it’s not.

The point is this … God didn’t have to do it. In order to let that sink in, I’ll say it again … God did not have to send Jesus … the Messiah, the Savior, the light of the world, the Prince of Peace, the Lamb … of … God. It was a voluntary act … not a requirement, not compulsory, not an obligation … a choice. He could more easily have just left us alone … to our own devices … coping with our sin in whatever manner we invented. (I should just stop here, but no …)

See, we grew up in a time when it was always a fact … always a given … that God had sent His son to die for our sins. If you grew up in church, as I did, you heard it so repetitively that your ears grew virtually numb to it. I’ll sadly admit that I’ve heard my own thoughts whining like a spoiled teenager, “Yeah, I know, Jesus died for my sins. Tell me something I don’t know!” Have we been swimming in the deep end of the grace pool so long that we’ve become anesthetized to a staggering reality … so long that we’ve essentially adopted an entitlement mentality about this colossal truth? Have we grown immune to the magnitude of the simple fact that God did not have to send Jesus … to forgive us, to redeem us, to lift us out of the pit, to save us?

He chose this.

And to state the glaringly obvious yet again … if He chose to do this, then it only follows that He could have chosen … not to. Which begs the question, exactly what was God choosing when He sent His beloved to … us?

As I understand it, He knowingly chose to allow His son … His son … to leave his home in Heaven, (a place of absolute safety, security, harmony, comfort, love, purity, peace, glory, and abundance), and come to … us (floundering in a quagmire of greed, pride, gossip, lies, discord, addiction, murder, adultery, incest, politics, drunkenness, slavery, corruption, disease, theft, abuse, lust, hunger, war, and death) … a very dirty place filled with very dirty, very lost, very rebellious people … most of whom wanted very little to do with Jesus or his God.

Here’s a brief itinerary of the trip Jesus signed up for: he traded a throne in a palace for a manger in a barn; exchanged adoring angels for cows and sheep … (ala trading Buckingham Palace for a sewage-filled slum in Port-au-Prince); humbled himself in obedience to parents he himself created; subjected himself to earthly laws; took a job as a carpenter (a humble laborer … not a lofty priest or overseer); physically touched victims of the putrid disease of leprosy … (previously unheard of); washed the filthy feet of fishermen; fed the hungry; restored the hopelessly insane to right-mindedness (others simply shunned them); befriended hookers, adulterers, thieves, and foreigners (both male and female); endured constant harassment by arrogant detractors (whom he created); suffered the indignity of betrayal and public arrest via the sarcastic kiss of a supposed friend; endured bullying and mockery in an open trial; took punches in the face from soldiers he created; was spat upon repeatedly (anything more degrading than that?); was stripped naked in public and paraded through the streets like a prize; was whipped unrecognizable with a cat-of-nine-tails; scorned further with a crown … of thorns (likely pounded into his head to achieve deeper penetration); paraded again through the streets for more public taunting and spitting; and finally nailed to a tree … naked (subjecting a crucified criminal to the ultimate indignity of having to relieve himself in full view of the gathered masses, as he’d likely be suspended for 24 to 36 hours) until finally … mercifully … dead. This is the trip that God knowingly allowed His son to take … meaning that Jesus is not only the means by which we attain forgiveness … he’s also the assurance of God’s desire to give it in the first place. The very fact that God chose to send him is a staggering testimony to just how driven God is … to forgive.

So with this in mind, I ask two simple questions: 1. If God was not deterred, even by all of this … then just how much does He love you? 2. How badly does He yearn to forgive you? After all, to state one last obvious fact … He doesn’t have to. He never had to. And in another era, we’d totally “get” that.

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6 Responses to Drowning in the Deep End

  1. dougtennant says:

    Because before I ever loved him, he first loved me. He provided a means back into his presence and gave a supreme example of how best to live, not because he had to or because he desperately needs us, but because he loves us. THAT MUCH. I don’t like the phrase “paid for our sins” because I think in today’s mentality it implies specific individual transgressions. In truth, God is so far above us as a being perfectly fulfilling his capability and potential, humanity as a species doesn’t belong in the same room. When he came to us, he took the humiliation, the beatings, the spitting, the misunderstanding, the intolerance, pretty much the sum total of those hurtful and horrific experiences we inflict upon one another, and said, “I will do what you cannot. I forgive you. Here is love.”

    No, he didn’t have to. He doesn’t NEED us. But he loves us. And I think that is what’s lost in today’s complicated conflicting rhetoric of multiple churches and religions all competing to be right, to be his favorites, to be most holy: the simplicity of his love. In anther era when the Good News was just that, something you had never heard, and not mired to death in interpretive legalese. I don’t mean to beat that horse, but I think it’s what keeps most people from a real relationship with the Maker. It’s NOT that hard.

    Thank you, Randy.

    • randyneff says:

      Amazing insight and elaboration again, bro … as always. So glad you’re here.

      “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

      Stay close by, my friend.

      RN

  2. shannon says:

    Yes, this “trip” that God CHOSE for His Son to take, because of His love for us, IS “STAGGERING”! He gives each of us a CHOICE to “CHOOSE” Him but so sadly, He is still on the “road trip” of rejection, mockery and being slapped in the face …etc..every day not only by unbelievers who will not “choose” Him but by Christians who know, or should know this “familar story” and still choose not to put into practice what they hear/learn from the pew. Christians who “choose” not to forgive, Christians who “choose” not to love or to repent and turn from the rotten fruit they are producing is “STAGGERING”. Rotten fruit that “infects” others and also stinks in the nostrils of God AND yet HE still loves us. (Yes, again His choice to die for us while we were still sinners). I’m so thankful for His love, His forgiveness and His patience with all of us. Life sure is full of choices and ironically yes it all started with the choice of His love for each of us. I pray to never take His love for granted and that I truly “get” what this “chosen road trip” really means! Thank you RN for the time that you take to write and for sharing your gift. blessings and favor SHS

    • randyneff says:

      Hi, Shannon! It’s great to hear from you again. On the brighter side, it’s also encouraging that many others, like you, have said “yes” to him … again and again. I’m always inspired by your passion and your conviction. Thank you for giving me one more reason to keep pressing on.

      Please stop by again soon, SH-S!

      • shannon says:

        Hello RN….I apologize! I’m usually always on “the brighter side”. My words were strong. I’m a little weary of all the serious hardships and trials that SO many Christians around me are facing . Some days I get overwhelmed but I’m quite aware of the enemy using my gift of compassion to do just that, overwhelm me, and try to make me ineffective for Gods Kingdom. I’m very thankful for all who say yes to God over and over!!. I would LOVE nothing more than to to see MORE victories and stronger Christians( including myself!) Our enemy is detroying so much! It hurts my heart! . …. Blessings and favor, Thanks again for your words. SHS

  3. randyneff says:

    Hello again, SHS. Thank you for stopping by again. And please, no apologies needed … if life (and discipleship) were easy, we’d have little need for faith and little to overcome. This would certainly yield very feeble and weak-kneed disciples. Feeling overwhelmed and weary is a sure sign of a person who’s deeply invested in the process, as clearly you are. Hopefully, with days like that, we also get to enjoy days of inspiration and refreshment too. You inspired me with this today … thank you. Hope to see you on here again soon. Peace to you & yours … RN

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