If I were to ask you, “What is the biggest problem in our world today?”
How would you respond? You may answer with such things as poverty,
hunger, cancer, violence, or divisive politics. Similarly, if I were to ask you, “What is the biggest problem in your family’s life today?” How
would you respond? Would you answer with busyness, disunity, money, or depression?
In June we are going to begin reading through the book of Romans, a book that makes it absolutely clear what the most fundamental problem in this world is: sin. Romans 6:22-23 tells that there is, “No one righteous, not even one,” and that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Even the most charitable nun, honorable leader, and life-sacrificing
officer are all grave sinners when standing before the God of the
universe. Each one of us is deserving of God’s wrath and justice. Each
one is completely dependent on God’s grace and mercy if we want to have a relationship with Him.
A question I want us to wrestle with as we read through Romans is whether or not we view our world through this lens? Do we see everyone, even ourselves, as wholly guilty of sin and deserving of God’s justice, or do we judge others by our own standard of good and evil? It is probably easy for us to see murderers, corporate CEOs, and sex traffickers as sinners; but is it just as easy for us to believe that missionaries, doctors, and even ourselves stand just as guilty before God as those ‘other sinners?’
The reason I want that truth to be driven home as we read Romans is that the gospel is only good news to us if we see ourselves as hopeless
sinners. Jesus did not come to save the healthy but rather the sick. The more sick we understand ourselves to be, the more desperately we will cling to the gift of God in Christ Jesus for our salvation (Romans 6:23). At the end of the day, a murderer and a Christian nun are not separated by their own works, but by the work of Jesus on the cross. Apart from Jesus, both end up in Hell. With faith in Jesus, both can be reconciled to Him, being clothed in Christ’s righteousness.
In addition, Paul says in Romans 12:1 that in view of the mercy we have received from God, we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. He has just spent 11 of 16 chapters in Romans talking about the incredible depth of God’s mercy to save hopeless sinners through Jesus Christ. Why? The more we see ourselves as desperately dependent on Jesus, the more we will live for Christ in our daily lives. If we want to be people who are living in light of the gospel, we need to be people who are first changed by the love and mercy of Christ.
It is then that we will no longer view ourselves as better than those
around us. It is then that we begin to see that rich and poor, imprisoned and free, unchurched and churched all need Jesus the same. It is then that we begin to believe that what we and everyone else needs most in this life is not a family, more money, more free time, or a better job, but rather the good news of the gospel found in Jesus. Our purpose in life in every relationship then becomes, “How can I show and tell this person about the love of Christ for them?”
My prayer is that by the time we finish Romans 16, that we would be deeply changed by good news of Jesus for hopeless sinners like you and I. And, having been overwhelmed by God’s mercy for us, we would be filled with a great desire to share Christ with all the sinners just like us.