WIPED AWAY OR WIPED OUT...?
"Now it's time to change your ways. Turn to face God so He can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you and send you the Messiah He prepared for you, namely Jesus. For the time being He must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored in order again just the way God, through the preaching of His holy prophets of old, said it would be. Moses, for instance, said, 'Your God will raise up for you a prophet just like me from your family. Listen to every word He speaks to you, Every last living soul who refuses to listen to that prophet will be wiped out from the people.'" Acts 3:19-23 (The Message).
That's a bit rough, isn't it? Does God really mean that everyone who does not listen to Jesus will be wiped out, as in -- removed, destroyed? What happened to the "God is love" thing?
Yes He does.
The tragic truth is that most people do not understand the nature of God's love. They think that His love is a "do anything you like, spit in my face, ignore who I am, wipe your feet on me and I'll take no notice" kind of love. Yes, He loves us even if we have treated Him like that but that attitude does not make for a good Father/son relationship.
Jesus told a compelling story about a son who treated his dad just like that. He was an "I don't need you; I can make it on my own; I want to be free; I'm sick of you and your stuffy holiness" son. He demanded his inheritance, tantamount to saying, "I wish you were dead," and set off to live out his 'freedom' far away from dad and home.
His plan worked for a while until his funds ran out and his so-called friends ran away. Then reality hit. He had no home, no money and no one to turn to for help. He faced the stark reality that a man has to work to eat. Hunger drove him to do the unthinkable -- a Jewish boy looking after pigs! Just imagine that! He was so "free" that he could sit and watch pigs all day.
What option did he have but to eat humble pie and go back home? Suddenly the thought of home and dad and all those things he had so despised, were no longer repulsive but appealing. It's funny how hunger and poverty bring a person back to sanity! He wasn't sure about his father's attitude to his homecoming. He had better offer himself as a servant just to get a square meal every day.
The story, among other things, illustrates the heart of the father -- his son was always his son, regardless of his failures; but it does not tell us about the cost of reconciliation. God set a price on rebellion from the beginning. Rebellion is expensive. Forgiveness comes at a price.
This whole episode that Peter was talking about, God coming to earth Himself, living a human life for thirty three years, being put to death for being the Son of God with no guilt of His own, was about paying the price He demanded for mankind's rebellion. We could not pay the price for everyone else's sin, only our own, and that means being wiped out of God's family for ever.
There's only one way back into the family -- by having our wicked past wiped away. Jesus did that by taking the rap for us. Now we can do what the rebellious boy did, go back home to Dad because there is nothing in the way any more. The Father took His anger at sin out on His own Son so that He can welcome us home with open arms.
So...it's time to change your ways! The old way does not work and only leads to the pigsty. Daddy's waiting to welcome you home.
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