Plenty of Christians look up and out from their Bible or church and see a world full of sinners who ought to be punished.
Much of that world looks back at Christians, shakes its collective head, and wonders, “If Christianity is about sin and guilt and fear and punishment, how is that better than the life I’m leading right now where I don’t judge anyone … and I don’t fear anyone or anything judging me?”
I’m afraid I know this one to be true: a Christian with a heart full of zeal to save sinners can be the worst witness of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. That’s because, to the non-believing world, the suffering Christ on the cross is anything but a picture of love. And I know that any conversation that starts, “Let me tell about how Jesus died for your sins,” contains the presumption of condemnation, as in: “Hi, how do you do? You’re a sinner. You’re condemned. And this guy, Jesus, died for you.” Huh?
I’d wonder, “Well, if that guy really died for me, why am I still condemned? And hey, who are you calling a sinner?”
It is the Christian who is supposed to understand that the first and worst sinner he or she sees every day is the one staring back at him or her from the mirror. And as a believing, studying Christian, I know that Christ’s work on the cross was a whole lot more involved, and important, than just forgiving and covering my many sins.
Christ on the cross restored and reconciled the fallen world with the Creator God Almighty. At the cross – in grace, not transaction – the eternal destiny of all mankind was set upright. At the cross, everything changed. At the cross Christ restored our relationship with God, defined our proper fellowship with each other, defeated death, adopted us as children into the Kingdom of Heaven, revealed the truth and the true God, hastened the arrival of the comfort of the Holy Spirit and defined our human lives in terms of sacrifice, service and, most importantly, love.
Christ gave us the peace of repentance, freedom from guilt and fear and blessed us with the joy of hope and fullness to replace the despair of regret and emptiness. And, oh yeah, our sins were forgiven, too.
Don’t sell Christ short thinking His death was solely about sin. God’s savings plan is about a world full of sinners who need to be – and ought to be – loved.