I’ve been thinking about this quote all day. It caught my attention this morning. I am one of those mended traitors.
Lewis‘ statement drives home the point Jesus made when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) One cannot fully partake of this kingdom filled with unbankruptable resources, unlimited power and unending peace until one is willing to see him/herself as a paupered orphan in need of adoption by the Father of all, a renegade from the absolute laws of the universe who is nonetheless invited to become an heir of the highest King.
This is where every salvation story starts. We stubbornly insist upon viewing ourselves as capable enough, good enough and smart enough to have it all and more without ever needing to resort to God. This is our natural way of thinking. It doesn’t sound like a blessing to find out that we are poor sinners with no hope of measuring up to a perfect God by our own means. But, oh, how great a blessing it is, for from this lowered, humbled vantage point we first catch sight of what the kingdom of heaven offers.
The essence of humility is recognizing that the highest purpose we can attain to as humans is dependence upon God. There is no other way for man to attain his highest end. “Who, being in the form of God, did not seek the glory in the flesh of being God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8) And – “…the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.” (John 5:19)
While operating as a reflex of the mind of God, the Scriptures tell us that Jesus did so much good upon the Earth that the number of books which could be written about it could fill the planet. This tells me that full participation in the kingdom of heaven results in tremendous blessings for the Earth and its residents.
If Jesus, the one and only person who never sinned, lived in complete dependence upon God and reaped results like that, why don’t we follow His example more closely? Because we are earthly minded. We think ourselves rich in so many ways much as a young child thinks he can cross a busy parking lot without holding mom’s hand.
There is nothing attractive about God or obedience to God within the insulation of self-righteousness, self-reliance, and self-rule. The life Jesus lived and then gave away seems repelling, stultifying and grotesque when we are in this mode. “…He has no form or comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2b)
But arriving at the last outpost of one’s own ways, at wit’s end, the whole thing begins to look much different. It begins to sound like sweet music to hear that God offers amnesty to traitors. How is it possible?
- Sin is defined as “any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)
- The justice (or wage) earned by sinning is death.
- Jesus, by not yielding to sin a single time, earned the justice given to a perfect, sinless person: eternal life and victory over death, a seat at the right hand of God, a name higher than any other name, all enemies made a footstool.
- Jesus volunteered to trade sentences with us. He took our sentence of death upon Himself, conquered it by His resurrection and has the right to impute the justice He earned to us.
No fortune of man, no noble deed, no earnest desire can exterminate sin. Only one thing can remove it from us – the blood of Jesus. God’s love for His fallen creation is so great that He, as Lord of all, chose to empty Himself and pay the ultimate price to restore us to His original intent for man – to live happily in full relationship with our Creator and with one another. He knew that this would not be possible unless He saved us from the consequence of our own free will to reject His parenting, His kingship. What higher form of love could one imagine?
The blood that Jesus shed when He died in our place is the antidote to sin and death. He is our amnesty, our way back.
If you have failed to measure up and you admit it, you are blessed. If you know that you need help beyond yourself, you are blessed. Make the trade. Offer the little half-empty shot glass holding the extent of your resources to God, and, in return, gain access to the entire storehouse of His kingdom. You’ll wonder why you waited so long!