Well, it’s a new year and time to reflect on the year that just ended. I don’t want this to be a cheesy year in review, so I’ll spare you the top ten list. Allow me a few days to ruminate on all that I’ve discovered in my year of church detox and elucidate for you here.
First, I want to talk about the single most central event to Christianity, the sacrificial death of Jesus. As I was thinking on this, I thought of the oft-quoted line of Paul, part one of the “Roman Road” if you will. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Central to my belief system is the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh. As the perfectly divine, yet totally human Savior, He was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world and the only acceptable offering to God, the Father. And since ALL have sinned…and fallen WAY short…we’re covered by this once-for-all offering.
While that may be a given for most, if not all, Christians, the church’s focus on the first part of Paul’s proclamation seems to belittle the second, which is “fallen short of the glory of God” (emphasis mine).
What does that mean, “the glory of God?”
Could it mean that we, as God’s cherished creation, haven’t lived up to our potential? Have we fallen short in areas in which we are totally capable of achieving our best? Living graciously? Being generous, kind, loving, accepting of others, etc.?
I was trying to explain the Passion story to my 4-year-old over Christmas. We celebrated the special day with communion as a family. Of course that raised all kinds of questions about why Jesus had to die. Instead of giving the pat answers I had grown up with, I tried to explain it to her in less gruesome terms with less emphasis on the “sins of the world,” which she wouldn’t understand, anyway.
The most basic way I could explain it is that it takes bread and wine (i.e. food and drink) for us to survive. Jesus told us that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood. That means we need Jesus to survive.
The more I thought about my simplistic explanation, the more profound it seemed. I came full circle back to a discovery I made months ago:
A life given sacrificially is a life gained eternally.
Jesus’ death is more than just some cosmic retribution for the sins of all humans. It is the gateway to life and to reaching the glory of God. It represents the way we humans must survive on things that are sacrificed, like the wheat that produces bread and the grape that produces wine. It also symbolizes how we must live selflessly in service to others.
Could it be that the glory of God meant to shine through us burns much brighter when we actually live this way?
Then why do we get so hung up on the sin issue, instead of letting God’s glory shine through?