Children love getting gifts and it’s a big reason why they love Christmas and birthdays. When I grew up, I loved it when my parents would come home and just give me gifts, out of the blue. It made me feel special because I never knew the gift was coming and I didn’t have to do anything to earn the gift. Now, as far as days like Christmas and my birthday, while I don’t have to “do” anything to get the gifts I am given, they were kind of expected.
Of all the gifts I was given, there came three little words on the box of the gift that easily turned the gift into a nightmare, even temporarily. Those words were, “Some assembly required.” I am one of those people who don’t enjoy putting things together.
One of the gifts I remember receiving was a bike. I recall on separate occasions that my dad bought a bike for me that had to be put together and I impatiently waited for him to assembly the product so I could enjoy it. Yet, I also remember getting a bike that was a finished product and I was able to enjoy it immediately.
In essence, no assembly required is often the best gift a kid can get
When I was growing up, attending the Catholic Church, I had this picture in my head that God was not only holy and perfect but he wanted me to be someone I could never really be. I had an unhealthy fear of God in the sense that if I didn’t get my life right, then I would face his judgment. That’s a tough thing to face when you’re a kid because you want to enjoy your life. You want to spend time with your friends and build forts and tease girls. So, the issue I was facing was that having fun seemed to go against everything that God wanted for me. I had this fear of dying and having to face God because I wanted to live my life.
Again, life came with the sense of “Some assembly required.” Basically, I had to do something before I was a complete product. I had to be on God’s good side and being morally good, all the time or else hell would await me with open arms. What a terrifying thought!
So it all comes down to this. Here I am, a sinner, lost in my sin, with this crazy hope that one day I will get my life in order but as life continues on, I am finding it more and more difficult to be good. I am finding church to not make a lot of sense anymore and when I am at church, I want to be spending time with my friends and playing video games!
“But God…” that’s the key phrase that changes everything in this life. A careful reading throughout the Scriptures reveals that “But God” moments often occur following man’s failure. As the Old Testament drives us to the Incarnation of Christ we find ourselves still without hope. In a hopeless world Christ leads us to another “But God” moment that changes everything.
1. On the cross, Jesus displayed his love for us.
The cross is, was and always will be the focal point of God’s story. At the cross, Jesus laid down his life for lost sinners. It’s not simply the act of death but what it portrays that makes it so amazing. Jesus died for those who would betray him, those who deny him, those who would hate him and those who would kill him. It was not simply an act of death but an act towards those who were against him. Christ died for his enemies, Christ died for those who are weak, and Christ died for those who are lost.
Paul describes the condition of man in Romans 5:6-10 with these terms: weak, ungodly, sinners and enemies. Jesus died for his enemies, those who were hostile towards an all loving God. This Jesus, crucified, is the picture of amazing grace.
2. On the cross, Jesus performed his love for us.
Jesus put action to his words and lived out faithfully before God. Not only did he live a sinless life, he gave his life up for us. Who followed Jesus and gave their lives up for him? Who dared to go to the cross for him? No one, even though he was the good man we should have been willing to give our lives for. Yet, he himself gave his life for us.
In his death, he accomplished more than we can comprehend. His death breathed life into our death. His death breathed forgiveness into our sinful nature. His death breathed hope into our separation from the Father. His death breathed righteousness into our standing.
All Jesus accomplished for us resounds with these words, “It is finished.” There is no assembly required for me for salvation. Salvation is the work of God and comes “by grace through faith.” There is no assembly required in eternal life, for it is the “gift of God.”
Jesus paid it all. Jesus won it all. His life is the victory. Jesus did everything I could never do so his grace might empower the weakness in me to become who God calls me to be. Everything I have and everything I am is because of Jesus. He did it all, he gets all the glory. While I was a sinner, he loved me enough to die for me.