It’s All About Your Focus
By Jody Griffin
Avery and Mitchell Counties
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
A popular advertisement for an insurance company highlights the importance of focus. The ‘main character’ is displayed with clarity while the supporting cast is blurred so as not to take the attention of the viewer away from the main character. The issue of focus is the theme of this article.
There is a choice we must all make. That choice is whether we will concern ourselves with the judgment of humans or if we will concern ourselves with the judgment of God. Many believe that they have the authority or the right to determine the worthiness of another to receive the gifts of God. What is really the main focus in the dramatic presentation of the Gospel?
You can choose to believe it or not…that has zero bearing on its Truth. God loves you and there is nothing you can do to change that. The temptation to believe that God’s Love is conditional is pervasive in our society and even more so in the church. But the proclamation found in this verse of Scripture turns such judgment upside down!
The language used here implies that God chooses willfully to align with us (commendeth-synistao/pronounced soon-is-tah’-oh) as those who have chosen to live outside the boundaries of God’s commands. When we refuse to follow in the ways God has taught us, God’s great and unending love provides for us a pathway to forgiveness. This is the defining reality for all people everywhere. ALL PEOPLE…meaning you and me, them and us. This one word in this verse is of utmost importance for our understanding.
The law-abiding citizen and the transgressor alike have been given the gift of grace through Jesus Christ! Realizing this love enables us to join in experiencing the joy of redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ! It frees us to rejoice in what God has done for us and it frees us to communicate God’s Love to others! The great privilege of sharing this Truth with the incarcerated is a privilege indeed!
The Chaplain hears it all the time. “You don’t know what I’ve done! Surely I am not worthy of the Love of God!” To which the Chaplain replies, “That is exactly right, you are NOT worthy!… And neither am I! Nor is anyone else! But thanks be to God, God’s Promise is that in our broken and sinful condition, God aligns with us through Love! We can’t earn it, we don’t deserve it, but God grants us the Divine gift of Love through Jesus Christ!”
God doesn’t just love us when we are “good” or only when we “do the right thing”. God loves us in everything we do and in everything we say! And the proof of that Love is revealed in the sacrificial death and the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ! This means that even amid our rebellion, even as we sin, the Love of our God is presented to us as a gift.
Judgment and punishment are significant realities in prison. Many people feel unworthy of the Love of God. Many others see the errors of those around them and make judgments about that other person. “My crime is not as bad as his!” The truth is that when we look at ourselves and others through the lens of God’s Love and forgiveness it becomes clear that none of us is worthy, but ALL of us are offered the greatest gift ever given! Thanks, Be to God!
Jody Griffin is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Spruce Pine and Community Funded Chaplin at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution. If you would like more information contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more good Christian news from Jody HERE.