Tuesday, December 22, 2009

THE CROSS: WHERE LOVE AND HATE MEET -- Devotional for December 21, from "Good Seeds"

Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness (Hebrews 1:9). But Christ died for sins, the Just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God (I Peter 3:18).

What does God hate more than anything in the universe? Sin. Why? Because sin is the one thing – the only thing – that separates Him from what He loves more than anything in the universe. And what is that? Sinners – well, mankind – but all men are sinners. We didn’t start out that way, of course. Speaking to Lucifer God said, “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:15). At the moment pride entered his heart the highest angel of God became the arch-enemy of God. He sought to be on an equal plane with the Almighty, and it was this self-same sin of envy that the devil tempted our first parents to commit: “You can be like God” (Genesis 3:5). Not only have we all inherited the physical characteristics of our human prototypes, we also have in our spiritual genetic code the same sinful nature Adam and Eve procured when they disobeyed God: an automatic leaning toward wrong thinking and doing. Oh, we know in order to survive in this life we must become civilized, so our parents and our culture teach us to be civil. But whenever our guard is down – our sin nature rears its ugly head: attitudes, thoughts, desires and actions quickly default to ugliness and ungodliness whenever our pride is threatened, our rights are violated, or we experience an onslaught of suffering. But God loves us still. Although we were made “a little lower than the angels,” we are the “apple of God’s eye.” When He sings, “These are a few of My favorite things,” all that comes to His mind are the people who populate this planet – and He knows each one by name! And just because our nature is now depraved, that does not make Him love us any less. How did Shakespeare put it? “Love is not love that changes when it changes finds.” If that is a description of human love, does it not epitomize divine love all the more? When the Bible says, “God is love,” love is a noun reflecting His motives. But when it says, “God so loved the world,” love is a verb describing His actions, for the verse goes on to say, “…that He gave His only begotten Son.” Christ loved us so much, even “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8), that He demonstrated it by going to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. The message is clear: God loves sinners with as much passion as He hates their sin. The cross is where that love and hate meet – and because it was “the Just for the unjust,” love wins! That’s why the cradle – He came to live among us – led to the cross – He came to die for us…which brings us back to God.

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