>> Monday, April 6, 2009
Jesus said, "For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." ~Mark 10:45
I have to admit, I never fully understood what Mark wrote in his Gospel until recently. Like so many, I have always been quick to judge my own actions and determine my own fate, believing that a difficult or painful event was a consequence of my sins. But I was wrong, because even when we do sin, the Bible says, "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love". (~Psalm 145:8) It was my own insecurity that stood in the way of truly appreciating the free gift of Christ's death and resurrection. For most of us, it is hard to believe that we would just be given the gift of our salvation without any conditions. But that is exactly what happened: Jesus paid our ransom IN FULL, and that is a truth many of us find difficult to live by.
In The Journey, author Billy Graham explains, "Eternal life is a gift. Many misunderstand this and still think they must earn their salvation by their own good works. But we can never be good enough to earn our way into heaven, because God's standard is perfection. Our only hope is Christ." He continues, "Few things cripple a Christian quicker than a lack of assurance about his or her salvation... Who is responsible for His [Jesus] death? We all are. Because He voluntarily went to the cross for one reason: to become the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. If we had never sinned, He never would have needed to die".
We often speak of unconditional love in our family life, in our marriage, and in our friendships. Truth is, by human nature, we are programmed to expect reciprocity: a mutually fulfilling relationship, needing to feel validated, meeting in the middle, I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine. It's a very wonderful concept to strive for, but one that can only come to fruition through a commitment to Christ. Because His love is truly unconditional. He died for us expecting nothing in return. And if we can place our trust solely and completely in the grace of God, perhaps then we can learn to love others without needing to be loved back.
There are people who touch our lives with a simple act of kindness or a word of encouragement, and yet expect nothing in return. I have some dear friends who have made a difference in my life, and oddly enough, I've never even met them:
Lenni P., Lovely Cee, Ginny C., Dawn in NY, Jen McG, Sharon in Australia, Denise B., Amy M. from Colorado, Jennifer S., and Angela L.
I love you guys. Thank you for being you.