Even at our best, our weakness is overwhelming, but it is what leads us to hope. Because, at just the right time, in our weakness, Christ died for us.
Maybe that’s too simple a paraphrase of this Scripture?
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6-8 NIV
Regardless, it is, as Pastor Ben said, the three-verse thesis statement from Paul.
Here we are in the first week of Advent. Thanksgiving leftovers are still crowding the fridge. Christmas is just around the corner, and we’re fully under assault from advertising, lights, ornaments, cookies, music, holiday TV specials, and inflatable lawn ornaments. Every message tells us that if we are just kind enough to each other during this season, everyone will get along, and there will be peace on Earth, and good will to all. The thing is, it doesn’t work like that.
We often feel all warm and fuzzy as the Currier and Ives jingles all the way through these few weeks. We smile more, and may even be genuinely nicer to our loved ones. Come January, the unrequited New Year’s resolutions set in, and our moods sour. We see the crime reports. Our football team is eliminated from the playoffs. The toys break. The tree goes out by the street and the decorations go back in boxes. But even at our best, like kids prepping for Santa, we can’t maintain the goodness. Our weakness wins out.
The Answer is Jesus
At the risk of giving a Sunday school answer, it is Jesus. The answer isn’t in being nice to each other, or keeping Christmas in our hearts all year long. Our minds and hearts aren’t going to rescue humanity from our own weakness. Being in this all together is not how we find hope.
“There is one hope and only one hope in our weakness, and it is Him.
It’s Him. It is ever, only, and eternally Him.”
– Pastor Ben
Even at our best, our weakness is overwhelming, but it needn’t overwhelm us. Because, at just the right time, in the midst of our weakness, Christ died for us. We might give our lives for our loved ones, but outside of family, or a couple of close friends, would we sacrifice ourselves for someone we don’t know, or moreover, for someone we think is evil? Of course not.
But while we were still at our worst, Jesus died for us anyway. That’s always been staggering to me.
Weakness gets us to Hope
This thesis of Christian faith gets to the core of it. It’s difficult to understand the staggering love of God, if you don’t understand the depths of our weakness.
“In order to measure the love of God you have first to go down before you can go up. You do not start on the level and go up…we have to be brought up from a dungeon, from a horrible pit; and unless you know something of the measure of that depth you will only be measuring half the love of God.”
— Martyn Lloyd-Jones (God’s Way of Reconciliation [Baker], Ephesians 2, p. 201)
Never fear though. Because even from under the pile of wrapping paper and broken toys, Jesus reaches down into our depths and gives us hope. It’s Him. It’s always Him. It’s ever Him.