Our Greatest Need, God's Greatest Gift
By Larry Sowders
So often the help we offer to people in need really misses the
greatest need of all. It is so easy for the church to focus on
giving outward and external aid and neglect the real problem of
the heart and soul. It is easy to do that because of the kind of
help the world expects from us. The world expects the church to
promote sobriety, family values and aid to the poor. Christians
are expected to make the world a better place to live.
However, if we do all of this apart from proclaiming the message
of Romans 8:1, we are not practicing the Christian faith. Romans
8:1 states, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those
who are in Christ Jesus."
What can we do to change the world and make it a better place to live? Should we start social ministries that feed the hungry and house the homeless? Should we support the needy and bring relief to the downcast? Should we aid the orphans and befriend the widows? I hope that all of you agree that the church should be doing these kinds of ministries. But if we do all of that without sharing Romans 8:1 we are no different than one who grooms the condemned and leaves him to die in the execution chamber.
The very center of all that we do must be to proclaim that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The greatest gift we can ever receive and the greatest message we can proclaim is the one of "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." What we could not accomplish for ourselves through obedience to God's law has been freely and graciously given to us. God sent His Son into the world that we might receive the gift of no condemnation.
Ephesians 2:3 says that we are all by nature children of wrath. We are born as sinners who deserve the condemnation of God's wrath. All of us deserve to be in the execution chamber for our crimes against God. In this execution chamber, no superficial gifts will help any of us apart from the gift of "no condemnation." This is God's gift to all who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. No condemnation is the verdict for those who are in Christ Jesus.
The reality is that some people are in Christ and some people are not. Some are accursed and separated from God; some are not. Only those who are in Christ are no longer under condemnation. Therefore, as we seek to love our neighbor and give aid to the needy, let us not forget the greatest need of all salvation in Christ Jesus.
In addition, let us who are in Christ Jesus have the truth of our pardon in our minds continually. Let us give continuous thought to the gift we have received. In times of suffering, be reminded that there is now no condemnation. In times of grief and sorrow, be reminded that there is now no condemnation. In times of distress, remember there is now no condemnation.
In times when you are tempted to despair, remember there is now no condemnation. In times when you feel all alone, remember there is now no condemnation. When victory seems distant, remember that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. You have been declared "not guilty" through Jesus Christ. All your sin past, present and future will never be counted against you.
What a precious gift! What a profound gift! With that gift, I need no other. So let us rejoice and celebrate our holy freedom in Christ. And let us hold out that gift for all who would put their faith in Him.
Larry Sowders is a pastor, husband and father of three living in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Read more at www.well-spent-journey.blogspot.com