“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)
At just the right time: God’s timing is always right. It is like the harvest. Crops must grow, and cannot be harvested until they are ripe. God sent Jesus at the perfect moment in history. But also, God reached out to each one of us and we encountered Christ at just the right time in life, at the time when we desperately needed a savior.
Powerless: weak, without strength, utterly helpless. If this was just referring to a physical infirmity, it would not be as impressive. But Christ came and loved us when we were weak in character, being actively destructive in our own lives, and in the lives of others. We were ruining our lives with drinking, overeating, bitterness, laziness, caught up in shallow pursuits. We were hurting others by not caring about them, leading them into our life of destruction, cutting them down, promoting ourselves at their expense.
Ungodly: Thus, we were wicked sinners. More than that, our despicable behavior stemmed from an irreverence for God. At the beginning of Romans, Paul talks about how men knew there was a Creator, but they refused to honor him or give him thanks, and their foolish hearts were darkened. We were people who lived our life as if there was no God, as if we had not been given the gift of life, of material sustenance, of living in the beauty of His creation, and so much more. Like children who rebelled against the parents who lovingly provided so much for them, our headstrong ways spit in the face of God.
“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:7-8)
Christ gave everything he had for us. I give someone my time and service in doses. Christ gave without stopping, all the way until it was painful beyond words, all the way until his body gave out and he had nothing left to give.
And he did this while people condemned him, mistreated him and mocked him. By their actions, they didn’t deserve anything good from him, and neither do we. Our actions have been just as reprehensible. Yes Jesus still came to us at a point in our lives and said, “Come, follow me.”
A few weeks ago a dog attacked Ken and bit him. It is hard to think of loving this dog. There are people who have hurt me and mistreated me, abused me. It is hard to think of loving them, much less giving to them. Would I happily have them over to dinner? Would I volunteer to go over and clean their house? Would I share my life with them? Would I empty out my bank account for them?
But this is what Jesus did. This kind of love goes further than the human definition of love. It is a divine love. It is a love that defies understanding.
It’s all about loving the unlovable. God loved Hitler. He loves the terrorist who kills his neighbor. He loves the politician who tears his opponent to pieces. He loves the child abuser.
In love so vast, so high and wide and deep, Jesus died for the African who hacked others to death with a machete. He died for the name-calling racist. He died for the North Korean who put people in prison camps for life.
And he died for me. I am no different. I’ve pursued my selfish wants on a single track. I’ve hurt others. I’ve actively hurt myself over and over again. I’ve wished for evil. I’ve brought the worst into the lives of loved ones.
And yet He loves me. It is a love that is like the far reaches of the universe. I just can’t fathom something a million light years away. And I can’t fathom Jesus shedding every drop of his lifeblood for me. The God who can make a universe that is so mind boggling is in His very nature mind boggling.
Love that is big enough to die for a sinner. Love that is big enough to listen to the prayers and care about the 7,000,000,000 people alive today. Love big enough to orchestrate my life, in the midst of all of the needs of all of those people and the needs of running the universe. Love that is big enough to speak life changing words to me in a whisper. Love that is big enough to adopt weak broken souls and take them to a place of eternal riches.
Without a love like this, there is no hope. But with it, all things are possible, and life takes on a vibrant beauty that is glorious.