Monday, December 28, 2009

The Children of God

One thing that doesn’t make sense to me is the thought that God the Son died on the cross to save humans, who are created from dust. The more I reflect on the fact that humans are dust, the more I don’t get why the great God of heaven and earth would die for us. To illustrate further, if I have a toy and my toy is broken, and the only way to make the toy whole again is by sacrificing myself for it, would I then let myself die for the sake of my toy? I don’t know about you, but honestly, I wouldn’t. I don’t know of anyone who would want to die to save a toy. I don’t even want to sacrifice my dog to save my toy. A toy is a thing and it is worthless compared to a living being. That is why I don’t understand the thought that God sacrificed himself for the sake of dust. Even, in this world, a toy is valued more than dust, and no one would die for a toy, why would one die for dust? Not to mention that this dust dares to mock the creator. A toy that does not do anything negative to the owner is not even worthy of the owner’s sacrifice, and thus a toy who mocks its owner is worthy of the owner’s wrath. If my toy dares to rebel against me, I would destroy my toy completely. So, even if humans do not sin against God, we don’t deserve God’s sacrifice for us. Can you imagine humans, created from worthless dust of the earth, who are broken, morally depraved, and actively rebelling against God, saved by God through the death of His one and only Son? It doesn’t make sense to me.

Some people would argue that God’s salvation is supposed to be beyond our comprehension, so if it doesn’t make sense than it is what it is. However, I don’t think it makes sense in any world to save a thing by sacrificing a living being. It is beyond insanity if the greatest living being must be sacrificed for the salvation of worthless dust that is broken and rebellious. Such sacrificial action would be against any sense of justice and righteousness. If we merely understand God’s sacrificial act as that of a living being sacrifices his life for worthless non-living being, then our understanding fails to accommodate God’s righteousness and justice. How then should God’s sacrificial act to be explained? Is there any explanation adequate to understand God’s salvation that is satisfactory?

I have no doubt that God did sacrifice His Son for our salvation. I fully believe that God’s saving act two thousand years ago was real and historical. I have complete faith that God the Son truly incarnated, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered injustice under Pilate, died on the cross for our sins, resurrected on the third day, and ascended to heaven witnessed by His disciples. However, I don’t think Jesus died just for worthless dust. In my quest to try to make sense of God’s remarkable saving act, I found the secret in the family relationship. The love in the family is amazing if we reflect on it. The love of the parents to the children cannot be replaced by any kind of love foreign to the bonded family. Therefore, in order to understand God’s sacrificial death, I pondered on how a parent handles a difficult situation befalling his/her children. My daughter got very ill when she was six months old. She got severe diarrhea and the doctor couldn’t find what caused it. She continued to pass fluid for one full month. But the doctor could not identify what and why it was. As her parent, my heart was broken when looking at her lying on her bed weak and pale. I wish I could do something to ease her pain. But nothing could be done. The doctor said that no medicine would help. The only thing could be done was just waiting until the body healed itself, so the doctor added. In desperation I hoped for divine intervention. Then I prayed in my heart that if it might, I was willing to bear her pain so she would not suffer anymore. Up to that point I realized that I would die for my child. My love for her drove me to sacrifice myself in order to save her. Only when I reflect that feeling then I can understand God’s act of love. This is the secret: God counts us as His children. Although we are dust, but He puts His image on us and He called us His children. Only then I can understand why God sacrificed Himself for our salvation, all because we are not worthless dust in His eyes, but instead we are His children whom he loves.

We are nobody, but regarded as somebody by the greatest being none greater can be thought. Isn’t this amazing? King David reflected on this theme on Psalm 8:

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Only when we understand who we are in God’s sight then God’s sacrificial act starts making sense. I could understand why God bore our pain and suffering if we are His children. Our status as God’s children is given to us long before the existence of the world. God already designed and planned our being in eternity. The love of God is greater than anything in the world. Even if we may understand why He would die for us based on how He sees us as His children, we still can’t begin to fathom how He would die for rebellious children like us. I can understand the worth of my children so I would die for them just because they are my children. But my understanding falls short when considering the worth of rebellious children who disregarded and disowned their parents and considered other things as their parents. How much more to understand children who murdered their parents to be worthy of the sacrifice of the parents, I can’t understand such thing. But through Jesus’ story of the prodigal son, I got a glimpse of the longing of the Father to embrace his son once more as his. The sacrifice of God on Golgotha that day brought us back to the Father’s embrace as His children, not as His rebellious children. We are made whole again through the death of God the Son. Is it worth it? If it isn’t, God would not die for us. His life is far more valuable than ours. Nothing can replace the value of God’s life. But God’s wisdom proves true that our salvation is worth every single drop of His blood, for His love is so great.

As we are called God’s children, redeemed by His most precious blood, how should we then live? The answer is simple, to live according to who we are, the children of God. How is that? Like Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. We are created in the image of God and the perfect image of God is Jesus Christ. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). God’s plan and the execution of His plan is perfect. Our transformation to be like Jesus Christ is no easy work, but God works on it perfectly. The sending of the Son of God to redeem us and the sending of the Holy Spirit of God for the sanctification of our being show how serious God is. God did not send one of His angels, though perfect they are in their nature, to do the salvation and sanctification work. The greatest being sends himself to attend to human affair, God must be extremely serious. Perfection is on His mind.

Richard Pratt is right to say that we are humble and yet dignified creature. For we are basically dust of the earth, which emphasizes our humble origin, but yet we are created in the image of God, which emphasizes our dignity. In many ways we are like God, said Pratt. Since the image of God is in effect, our being resembles that of God, who is the original pattern of our being. But we also must understand that we are no God. Some people crossed that boundary and declared themselves as God(s). What a pity. We are not God, and we will never be God. So we should not live acting as if the entire world belongs to us. Our task is to do His bidding. Our responsibility is to be faithful on the joyful work God gave us. Some people disgrace themselves and think that they are not worthy of anything. Such understanding is also false. Our value is given by God himself, and he called us His children. We are not just a thing belonging to God, but amazingly, though we are dust we are loved as His children. What more can we ask of God than to be called His children. Not even angels are called God’s children. Who are we that we are called the children of God? This is beyond our ability to fathom. This mystery is deep. So by faith I receive the knowledge God gives me. The status as His children nevertheless bears certain consequences. Obviously, as God’s children we cannot live improperly. Our God is great, and He is the King, and naturally as His children we must live up according to the standard of the Kingdom of God. This does not mean that, as some false teachers would teach, we must be rich for our God is rich. This also does not mean that, as some false teachers would teach, we can ask anything and God would give whatever we ask. No! The standard of the kingdom of God is Jesus Christ himself. The proper life in His kingdom is not a matter of material possession, or physical comfort, or free from hurts, but instead a matter of obedience to the will of the Father in heaven. Soli Deo Gloria!

* The Business of Christian Education XIII

No comments: