Monday, March 30, 2015

Why The Good Guys?

During a recent visit to one of my doctors, he announced, “Your test results are great! Do you have any questions for me?  I don’t need to see you for another year!”  Since this happened to be a follow-up visit to the urologist who performed my surgery for prostate cancer, this was great news.  The visit became memorable when my one question lasted only a minute or two.

Realizing that I was doing very well and that I didn’t need his professional expertise, the doc and I launched into a discussion about life in general.  Specifically, we talked about the challenge he and others face when they must talk about bad news with their patients.  “It seems like the worst news often comes to the best people.  We physicians have conversations about this,” he said. This doctor is a Christian and he followed this thought with, “I wish some people could understand how short this life is up against eternity.  That would offer them some hope.”

We conversed about how God frequently uses the worst circumstances of life to refine some of the best people, shaping their souls to be more like Him.  Serious illness, after all, can do some formidable soul-shaping.  Many people, though, prefer that they simply be given a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, so that they can go on living in their orneriness.  They don’t want their soul shaped; they just want to be in control of their own lives.

Why do bad things happen to the good guys?  That’s where I stop to reflect on this Holy Week. Besides, who ARE the good guys anyway?  Doesn’t the Bible say,

10 “No one is righteous—
not even one.
11 No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.”
(Romans 3:10-12 NLTse)
If that’s the case, how can we see anyone as “one of the good guys?"  Does it just mean that they aren’t quite as bad as the bad guys?  Is that what Paul meant when he penned those words?  Or, is it possible that those words are intended to body slam us into the dirt so that God can get our full attention?  
Come to think of it, the best people I know aren’t that way because of their behavior, but because of their beliefs.  What do they believe that set’s them apart?  It’s all about mercy and grace.

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Such mercy is anything but cheap.  I was recently struck by the power of these simple words: "With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—(Jesus) entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.”  (Hebrews 9:12 NLTse)  Truly “good” people acknowledge that their faults and failures exact a significant price: the blood of God’s own Son.  These are the folks who get it that they deserve to pay for their own sins…but they can’t.  The sins are too big, their power too deadly.  Only the perfect sacrifice can satisfy the stinkiness of sins.

The flip side of mercy is just as powerful...

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These days, I find myself often praying for grace.  I pray for grace when someone is sick or hurting.  I pray for grace when relationships are coming apart.  I pray for grace when hope seems lost.  Someone defined grace as “decisive action, based upon what I know is true about me, even though it may not feel true.”  I love the thought that God often pulls up with a truckload of grace, then dumps it all over us, giving us more than we need to walk through life’s messes.

This Holy Week, I pray that we all will find ourselves at the foot of the cross.  Only then can we rejoice in the beautiful sacrifice that was made for our sins.  After we embrace the cross, the resurrection will welcome us with full expressions of Easter mercy and grace.  At that point, we will emerge as better people, based on belief rather than behavior.

Easter weekend is on our hearts at Stone Ridge Church.  Scores of people will bring their gifts to the 50 For 50 Project.  Many of our friends will join us.  We will be amazed at God’s goodness and throw a great party in His honor!  Join us!