I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the lifewhich I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
As a child, I learned in Sunday School that Jesus was God’s Son and He came to die a cruel death on the Cross for my sins. I didn’t like that story. It didn’t seem fair-- that He should have to do that for us—that we were judged “guilty” before we ever had a chance to be “good.” In my mind, I was raising my hand in the classroom of my heart, hoping to get God’s attention. I wanted to shout: Have you noticed me down here, God? I’m living a really good life. I don’t want Jesus to die for me! You can use that blood on somebody else.
I didn’t know if He heard, but it didn’t matter—I’d already made up my mind. So I tried very hard to be perfect and on most days, I thought I did a pretty good job. But then one day my younger sister was not being very “perfect” to me in the sandbox. If I had to be perfect, why couldn’t she? It didn’t seem fair. In a flash of anger, I whacked her on the head with the closest thing at hand—the glass bottle I’d been filling with sand!
Blood gushed from the crown of her head and I was horrified. The scalp wound was minor, but it bled profusely and I thought I’d killed her. I was devastated! I didn’t even get a spanking, though I’d certainly earned one.
All that blood because of me was enough to help me realize how much I needed the blood Jesus Christ shed for me. So I made a profession of faith in Christ to be my Savior, was baptized, and joined the church at the age of eight.
Now I thought I really would be perfect for sure, but it didn’t happen. I had to learn and am still learning about the subtle nature of sin and the unlimited magnitude of grace. Both are so big it will take a lifetime, but now I have a Teacher, the Holy Spirit-Christ’s gift, residing in my heart, helping me live like I should and setting me back on track when I fail.
Sometimes, like Peter in the Upper Room, pride still surfaces and gets the upper hand: “You shall never wash my feet! “ (Luke 13:8). And then the Spirit confronts me with my need, as Christ did with Peter: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
In a moment, I know that sin has intervened. Hopefully, like Peter, I will quickly respond: “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” That’s when the words of Jesus remind me of the daily spiritual submission I need to keep growing: “He who is bathed, needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean….”
Human effort, like human blood, is an insufficient sacrifice for what we’ve done. Only God can fix the things we have broken. He did and He does through the one-time offering of His only Son on our behalf.
I’ll never forget the way I felt when I saw my sister’s blood flow as a result of my passion. I couldn’t believe I could be that cruel. May I never forget the grace I felt when I really knew Christ’s divine passion willingly shed his blood to pay for my sins. No coercion was needed for this conversion—only eternal gratitude and voluntary self-surrender.
It wasn’t fair. It was grace.