God With Us
By Pastor Erik Iverson
Holy Cross/Faith Lutheran Churches
Seeley Lake & Condon
In Nuremburg, Germany, at the church of St. Lawrence, stands a statue called The Woman of the World. Seen from one side, she is beautiful and adorned with jewels. But on the other she is a skeleton upon which serpents crawl. Christians are likewise referred to as simil justis et peccator- simultaneously justified/righteous and sinners.
The latter describes us all; sinful. Yet while this remains true for all, the righteousness of a child of Christ is imputed as a gift, which we of ourselves in no way merit. This is the most beautiful gift of all, given to all mankind...Christ Himself.
Like any gift, it can be refused or set aside, or received and cherished. Many times, the gifts we give one another come wrapped, and often we like to use more beautiful wrapping and bows on the ones we that feel are more expensive or meaningful.
Upon looking at His most cherished creation, mankind, God's heart was grieved at how we so often took the gift of free will to turn away from Him and toward ourselves.
Hearts intended to live in the peace and fullness of communion with our Maker instead pursue false earthly pleasures that He warned would lead to eternal separation from Him; Hell and death in the truest sense.
Yet as Scripture tells us, God is love, and out of that love He chose to come to us to save us from ourselves. Christ Jesus, who stepped down from the glory of heaven, did not come in godly power and splendor. Instead, all-holy and mighty God came to us as one of us, pure and sinless yet simultaneously in the likeness of sinful flesh.
Our Father knew how we would receive Him, and that ultimately He would be mocked, cursed, beaten, and killed by the very ones He came to save.
This was the price of our sins...the end we ourselves deserved. Yet He knowingly chose all of this, from the moment He lay amidst the sounds of cattle in a manger all the way to the sound of hammers pounding the nails into His flesh. Ultimately it was there upon the cross the that the gift was given in full.
The material gifts that we desire remain upon this earth, eventually falling into decay, and no amount of them will ever buy us into heaven. The only one that will is at the same time beyond all earthly value and yet absolutely free. Wrapped in humility, it can only be accepted in the same through repentance.
The price that we could never, and would never, pay was paid in full by your God who created you and loves you so much that He gave His life in exchange for yours. Just as He once came to live among us in the flesh, His desire is to live within our hearts now.
Of all the gifts that are opened, may God grant that the one thing He desires to be opened...our hearts...be so to receive the gift of eternal life with Him, through Christ Jesus.