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Summer is over now, and many are already back in the world of classes, teachers, books, assignments, and of course grades.
Some of us, on the other hand, have passed the years for formal education, but many older people have chosen to go back to school and take college courses in areas of personal interest or job enhancement. Whether still in school or out of it, we’re all well acquainted with the pressure, anxiety and fear that formal education can generate in us as we strive to measure up and make the grades we need.
Life itself can take on that same sense of anxiety and worry if we measure our personal worth in terms of achieving a “grade.” Christian writer Henri Nouwen put it this way:
The world says: “Yes, I love you if you are good looking, intelligent and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job and connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much and buy much.” There are endless “ifs” hidden in the world’s love…. The world’s love is and always will be conditional (The Return of the Prodigal Son, p. 42).
In the world, and often even in our homes, love is based on our behavior. Life has a way of teaching us from an early age that when we are good, our parents, teachers, bosses, spouses and even many of our friends love us, but when we aren’t so good, they don’t.
But it is not the same with God. God does not withhold his love until you measure up. He loves you all the time – before your sins, during your sins and after your sins. “While we were still sinners Christ died for us,” Paul wrote in Romans 5:8 and 10. But God does not leave us in our sins. Jesus came not only to be the atonement for our sins, but also to be our righteousness.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome: “But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22). God not only forgives our sins, he also provides the righteousness we need—the righteousness of Jesus.
In short, we are saved because God is righteous, not because we are righteous. God’s righteousness, Paul says, is displayed in his act of transforming us sinners into his own forgiven and redeemed children in Jesus Christ – something we experience only through faith. Jesus already made the grade for us; our job is to turn to him and follow him.
“Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes,” Paul wrote in Romans 10:4. Jesus does it all, start to finish. He’s the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.