October 26, 2007

Sign Up Now And Get A Free Gift!


The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 6:23

Say it with me if you know it, Christians. "3:23, 6:23, 10:9&10... the Romans Road to Salvation!" If you were like me, you memorized those three verses and became equipped to lead any poor, unsuspecting heathen straight to the throne of God, sobbing for mercy. Their meaning was obvious and needed no further thought or study -- you're a sinner, you deserve death, but if you believe in Jesus you'll be saved. Three verses to sum up the entire gospel message.

I'm sure that the so-called "Romans Road" has been instrumental in pointing a lot of people toward the redeeming love of Christ, so I don't mean to completely trash it. But for those of us Christians who became so accustomed to it, I think we've missed some of the deep, fleshy meaning that sits in these all too familiar verses. Look at the one I've quoted at the top of this post. Three words have really stood out to me recently.


The wages of sin is death. Wages are what you earn for the work you do. What we earn is death (it doesn't really mention "hell" or "eternal death", but that's for a different post). Whatever we work for, whatever we try to do, however much we try to obey the Law, if we miss the mark at all (sin), we earn death. This was, perhaps, the entire core of Jesus' message. "The Law is here and could save you if you kept it, but none of you do. Even looking at another woman is adultery, even being angry is murder. You earn death."


Please notice that the verse does not continue, "but the wages of believing in Jesus is eternal life". It's a gift. Given freely to each of us regardless of what we do, because what we do earned us death already. We don't like accepting gifts because they hurt our pride and make us very uncomfortable, but it's a gift all the same.


What's the gift? "Eternal life." Which, growing up, meant getting to live forever after I die (probably playing video games and never having a curfew, oh man). But look at it this way.

That's a ray. (Remember Geometry?) It starts at point "A" and moves to the right, forever, and it's how I always thought of eternal life. "P" was when I would die, and then oh boy eternal life would start and points "B" and "C" would equal "totally sweet". In the last few years I've tried to really understand that Jesus talks about eternal life starting now, as if point "P" was this moment, right here, and the ray extends off through the rest of our lives and into eternity. But I think that even that understanding is wrong. Eternity isn't a ray. Eternity is a line.

The gift of God is eternal life, extending off forever into the future and into the past. Not only does he prepare our life from now through forever, but he redeems and heals our past, working it all together for his good (purpose). Point "B" is now, point "A" is our past, and point "C" is our future but our life in God goes forever in all directions. And though we desperately want to earn our future in heaven, the wages of what we do/say/practice/believe is death. Thank God for his pride-crushing life-saving gift.

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