The problem we all face…
Have you ever noticed that something seems to have gone wrong in the world? You pick up the paper or turn on the radio, and it’s right in your face – death, deceit, war, violence, infidelity, selfishness, corruption, injustice…
We all somehow know it shouldn’t be this way. Is there any solution?
The old fashioned word for the situation we find ourselves in, is “sin”.
And, yes – there is a solution.
Help when and where we need it…
Just over two thousand years ago, Jesus gave us the solution.
Here’s the deal: God originally created the human person for a close personal relationship with himself. But, if you visit page two of the bible, you find that it didn’t take long for rebellion and disobedience to become part of the story. When that happened, it opened up a rift, a separation, between God and human beings. And it left a terrible wound in every human heart thereafter. It is this wound, left by original sin, that leaves us subject to death. (Genesis 2:17)
Rescue Plan Put into Operation
It is that wound, left by original sin, which is the place God created in us for himself. People constantly try to fill that emptiness in different ways – maybe through food, or drink, or sex, or money, or power, or success. But what we find is that nothing satisfies.
Fortunately for us, God was not easily put off. Although the relationship was profoundly changed when sin became part of our story, God continued to reach out to humanity – both to reveal who he was to them, and to work out a plan for our complete restoration. He chose a particular man, Abraham, and his family who became the people of Israel (the Jews), to work out this plan.
Over the course of several thousand years, he revealed that he was the only true God. He sent messages and promises through prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, and others, to guide and teach the people of Israel about who he was and what his plan was. He promised that he would send a saviour to redeem them. The people of Israel waited and watched for the promises to come true. This is the story that unfolds in the Old Testament.
Jesus God’s only Son on a Rescue Mission
In the fullness of time, God fulfilled his promise by becoming a man himself, a baby in the womb of the Virgin Mary. His name was Jesus. He lived a mostly-hidden life for about 30 years in Nazareth. When he went public, he spent three years travelling throughout Israel, healing, preaching and teaching. He proved his divinity through signs and wonders that are still being discussed two thousand years later.
Jesus was an inspired and popular preacher, but he also said a number of fairly provocative things that, for the Jews, appeared to be blasphemy. (And indeed, if they had been spoken by anyone else, they would have been!) He also confronted their corruption, and over the course of his ministry his relationship with the Jewish leadership grew increasingly tense. They began to plot to have him killed.
And it was through the death of Jesus on the Cross that he was able to work out his secret plan for the salvation of humanity. In Jesus, God laid down his own human life on our behalf, on the cross. He held nothing back to win us back from the power of sin and death and darkness. Three days after he died, he was raised from death and appeared to more than 500 witnesses. His death conquered the power of sin and death and darkness, and released the power of grace to help each of us to overcome sin in our own lives.
You can read the story for yourself in the part of the Bible called the Gospels, which are four accounts of the life and message of Jesus i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The Ball is in Our Court – A bit of honesty needed…
Returning to the problem mentioned above, we can say that the people who make the news every day, often do so through their sinfulness. But all of us have sinned – not one of us can say we are without sin – and indeed, we can see it manifested in the various disorders in our lives – greed, ambition, lust, rage, overeating, addiction, mockery, the need for attention… All of these are manifestations of sin, shown up as a sense of emptiness and longing for love that we try to medicate in different ways.
Jesus offers us a way out of all that. He invites us to live in a personal relationship with him, to fill us with his love, provide the power of grace to help us to reorganise our life, and lead us into abundant life.
It starts with an acknowledgement that I am a sinner who needs to be saved. If you take the time to examine your life in the light of the ten commandments, you will probably notice patterns and habits that have been destructive in your life. Basically, this is an acknowledgement that these things don’t work, and that you need help to live a different way. That’s called “repentance”.
Having admitted that you need help to turn away from your sins, its very simple! You ask Jesus to help! Invite him to come into your life and to change you. Entrust your whole life to him, and everything you care about. This doesn’t mean you turn into a “Holy Joe” or a saint overnight. It just means you are willing to cooperate with Jesus in turning your life around, so he can lead you to heaven.
He Makes All things New
Whether you call this “personal conversion” or being “born again” or “getting saved” or “becoming a Christian”, it marks a turning point in the road. From here on, one puts oneself under the Lord’s “discipline” by becoming a “disciple”. That means one wants to learn more about who he is, how he thinks, and what his plans are.
To do this, it’s important to read the Scriptures, which are God’s own revelation about himself. It’s also important to get with other people who are trying to do the same. These people are usually found in church. In fact, church is part of God’s plan for us, not an optional extra. Pray, and ask Jesus to help you to meet people in church who can help you to grow closer to him and learn more about him.
God has so much more to teach you and to give you. He has a unique and particular mission for your life, and he needs time with you to show you the path that will lead to your ultimate happiness… If you are open to this, then watch what he starts to do in the coming weeks and months.
It is also important to remember that we have an Enemy who actively seeks to blind people to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). Pray that many who are separated from the Lord will entrust themselves to the Saviour and gain everlasting life.