(Photo: Robyn Mundy)
I believe we are sinners.
I absolutely believe that God delights in us and that there is inherent good in us. We were created in God’s image and though we have marred and warped that image, the spark of God remains, even in the worst of us, even in our worst moments. I firmly believe that.
And we are sinners. We hurt one another. We act with hatred instead of love. We act selfishly and call it love. We do not do to others as we would have them do to us, we ignore and hurt our neighbors instead of loving them as ourselves. We’re not even that great at loving ourselves, at least not in a life-giving, God-glorifying way. What we call “love” for ourselves often is the fast or slow train to self-destruction.
I’m not trying to be a downer, I’m simply telling you what I see. God saved us from ourselves because we bloody well needed saving. When I look around, I think we could use a lot more saving–and I mean all of us.
Jesus came in human form because God is long-suffering.
Those of us who are parents know how many times we can endure having our child do the same disobedient thing before we lose it at them. (“Mike, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
That’s fine. The blog about unicorns and gold at the end of rainbows is just down there, at the other end of the internet.) When I pray and breathe deeply and get enough sleep and plenty of exercise, God makes me able to endure a few more times than that. But I have a limit and all my kids have seen what happens when I exceed (with their capable help) exceed my limit.
Jesus came to extend God’s limit for us to this:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38)
From the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.
I am convinced of this. I don’t always get it, but I’m convinced of it and for all of us.
Jesus came close to us so that nothing could separate us. Jesus saw what single-mindedly self-sabotaging beings we are and instead of shouting, “That’s it! I’ve had enough! You want to do that to yourself? Fine! Have at it!”* Jesus came into our darkness. Jesus caused himself unimaginable, incalculable suffering because he, too, had had enough–but instead of exploding at us, instead of punishing us, instead of even leaving us to the natural consequences of what we had done (were doing/are doing) to ourselves, Jesus came and made a way to peace.
Advent shows us how long-suffering God is, because even now, as we count down to Christmas and run around acting like the point of the Season (which we’ve nam is to buy presents, stuff ourselves, overschedule and get stressed out, God comes to us not in anger nor disappointment, not even in resignation, but in Peace, offering us true peace.
*As I’m sure none of us have ever done.