8 "But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8 (ESV)
Something special takes place when the unexpected happens and things unfold differently than how they are anticipated. They become instant highlights and stories everyone likes to talk about. It could be as simple as a no-look pass no one thought would reach its target, or a double-digit seed making a deep run in the NCAA tournament, or maybe a third-string QB coming in and winning the three biggest games of the year.
The plot thickens even more when the unexpected happens to the undeserving, when what is merited is not only removed, but replaced with something greater than ever anticipated. Barriers are broken, gratitude beams and joy overwhelms.
There is power when we live differently than the norm and differently than other people expect. This is even more so when we respond to others’ mishaps, shortcomings and failures differently than the world would, especially if they are directed toward us.
It is easy to explode, yell and demand they make it right without our lifting a finger. It is difficult to stay calm and react with peace and understanding. It takes deep courage and true strength to respond with grace rather than revenge.
There is no greater example that follows this storyline than Jesus and His work on the cross. We don’t like to think about it, but we aren’t all that good. We are a broken, lowly people who have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23) and are incapable of doing real good (Romans 3:12; 7:18). God has more than enough reason to punish us and keep Himself far from us.
Yet, what is His response? Jesus Christ. He became man and met us in our hopeless state. He came to love, not hate; to bring joy, not wrath; freedom, not bondage. Jesus came to save, not destroy (Luke 9:56 KJV). His life culminated in a grueling, painful and lonely death on a cross. Therefore, we are not only granted a reprieve from deserved punishment, but we are given an opportunity to embrace God’s love, grace and forgiveness; to surrender our lives to Him; to experience relationship with God, our Creator. Who could have ever seen that coming?
Have I reflected on God’s unprecedented and unexpected response to my sin? Am I living/responding as expected, or am I going against the grain?