By Sherri Ward
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Imagine you are in a garden. Itís beautiful, full of trees and pretty flowers. There is a gentle breeze. Itís near the end of the day, and a hint of sunset is just beginning. The birds are chirping from the trees where they are settling in for the night. You are at rest Ė the dayís activities are done. A table is being set for you, complete with your favorite dinner. You are filled with peace and enjoying the garden. The best part is that you are not alone. You are spending time with those you love. You talk, you laugh, you walk together and look at the flowers.
Now imagine the garden is Eden. Itís the cool of the day, and Adam and Eve are there, together with God. In their innocence they are simply enjoying Him and every good thing He is sharing with them. They donít question His love for them, they are simply there with God and happy.
However, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, with the result that sin and disobedience spread to the entire human race. Our intimate, loving relationship with God was broken. The blame was ours, therefore we owed a debt. If we could repay the debt, we could reconcile the account Ė and restore the lost relationship. The problem was that we had nothing good enough to use as payment. We could not even give our own blood, because it was tainted by our sin.
According to Old Testament law, when making an animal sacrifice as atonement for sins, the people had to choose an animal without spot or blemish. It had to be perfect, not old or sick, blind or lame. They had to choose the very one they would have preferred to keep, the potential blue ribbon winner. Thatís what made it a sacrifice; it cost dearly to give it up. But we know that the blood of livestock could never be enough to buy back the lost relationship. And so we were helpless. Our own blood was tainted with sin; the blood of animals was not enough. We had nothing good enough to pay back the debt we owed.
But God still loved us. He hadnít forgotten Adam and Eve, the garden and fellowship in the cool of the day. He wasnít willing to give up His relationship with man. Because of His great love and mercy, He enacted His own plan to reconcile us to Himself.
The scriptures tell us that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. Our blood is tainted by sin, and the blood of goats is simply not good enough. So, God made the sacrifice Himself. The blood of His Son was perfect. It was not tainted by sin. Jesus is the Lamb of God, spotless, unblemished, and perfect in every way. Anyone who has children, and even those who donít but can imagine what itís like, know what a tremendous sacrifice it was for God to watch His Son suffer. And yet He endured it, because He knew the end would be life back from the dead, and our reconciliation to Him.
This is not just a message for unbelievers Ė it may even be more a message for believers who have grown stale in their relationship with God, simply because they have shifted their focus away from that very relationship. Too often as Christians it is all too easy to begin to shift back into a religious mode, and let Christian tradition guide us outwardly, while inwardly we struggle to bring our thoughts and affections back to the living God. How awesome it is to begin to realize how very present He is with us throughout the day, even when our thoughts are not on Him.
It may help to stop thinking about your salvation only in terms of what you have been saved from. Shift your focus to what you have been reconciled to Ė a relationship with the Living God! He is the very God who created you and loves you with a love that will not die. Heís the very God who wants to walk with you, talk with you and lovingly enrich your life everyday, as your Father, and through His Son, as your friend and brother.
New American Standard Bible
2 Corinthians 5: 18 Ė 20
18: Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
19: Namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20: Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
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