We’re only human after all
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Romans 3:23-27 (NLT)
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.”
The phone rang and I picked up. There was a silence and a click, and a voice from a great distance inviting me to donate to a COVID19 charity. The call was very obviously a scam and I hung up.
We have all heard about the fake charity scams, phishing scams and dodgy cures that have arisen around COVID19 – new variations on old tricks. These schemes are opportunist and wrong and to be condemned.
At the same time we see health and other essential workers putting themselves on the front line to save lives and minimise harm. Their actions are good and generous, and we give thanks for these people.
Isn’t it so easy though, to draw lines between good people and bad, especially from a distance? All essential workers are good. All scammers are evil. We draw the line not knowing the motives (what Paul calls the hearts) of the people. We don’t know whether the scammer is greedy, or desperate or coerced by bigger players. Perhaps even trafficked and powerless. We don’t know the heart of the essential worker, or what their life is like when no-one is looking. How they handle their relationships or their finances. We judge either at our peril!
New Testament scholar NT Wright reminds us that the line between good and evil runs not between ‘us’ and ‘them’ but down the middle of each of us. Each of us is capable of good, and of evil. This is the human condition. Sin, like COVID19, is a condition for which none of us has immunity.
That’s why Paul reminds us that our standing with God is not to our credit. Our rightness comes from faith in Christ, and faith gives us the power to live rightly. That’s good to know!
God, the pandemic reminds us that we are mortal. Help us to examine our hearts, to see what is good in your eyes and what needs to change. Remind us too not to be quick to judge, either ourselves or others. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness.