[forthright] Peace

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 15:40:28 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Hands-on Faith

Peace
by Barry Newton

The man walking through my front door was squat
and sturdy. We had just moved to town and he was
delivering some new furniture. Determined to start
a spiritual conversation, I had asked a question
which I no longer remember. What I do recall is
the gist of his answer.

"The way I figure it," he said, "I'm trying to do
good things. I don't think it matters what church
a person might go to or if they go to church. I
think what matters is if people are doing good."

His words could not have more accurately summed up
a commonly shared wisdom. Yet from what we read in
God's word, God would not call this wisdom.

As God looks at our good neighbors and those
golden-hearted people who would give you the shirt
off their backs, he also sees the guilt staining
their lives, which they have acquired. Despite all
of their good intentions and loving actions today,
yesterday has forever barred any hope of heavenly
bliss tomorrow.

Justice demands a guilty verdict. Being
incorruptible, God can not violate his nature by
acquitting the guilty. Sin demands they suffer the
condemnation of death. Being incorruptible, God's
wrath must be poured out against all sin --
against all of us, even the proverbially wonderful
person whom we've seen act in sacrificially loving
ways but whose life has become stained with sin.

Quite literally, people find themselves at enmity
with the Creator of the universe. There can be no
doubt about how this would end.

Fortunately, history bears out that God's nature
also includes love, explaining why some two
millenia ago, in a Roman province under a man name
Pontius Pilate, Jesus died the death of a
criminal. Through the blood of his death upon that
cross, God had acted to provide a detergent more
powerful than the vilest sinful action ever
conceived by a human being.

In view of the injustice and evil we know about,
what transpired on an ancient Roman cross
challenges our comprehension. But the good news is
it did happen. Because of Jesus' death,
righteousness could demand love toward humanity
instead of wrath.

Peace with God broke forth, a peaceful
relationship God had made possible. God had
provided what humanity had been powerless to
achieve -- the forging of a relationship between
God and humans and the ability to sustain it.

With our society drifting further away from its
Christian moorings, the need to communicate the
good news of Christ's death only becomes more
urgent and greater. People really do not know or
understand.

How will a furniture deliverer ever come to
understand the truth about spiritual life? Who
will tell him?

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