22 October 2017

The issue is... the bridge?

My Iranian friends and I sat together in Denny's yesterday afternoon. What a joyful time in sharing between a non-practicing Jew,  a non-practicing Muslim, and me. We talked about so many things: politics, love, our own stories... good times. One of the topics we discussed I want to share with you here. It has to do with... love and sin. Please read on.

Each of us agreed that we all want others to treat us well, and similarly, we desire to treat everyone fairly. That's decency. Most societies in the world, Persian, American, Australian... most want to demonstrate love in some measure. Agreed. So why, they wanted to know, do we need religion and more importantly, why do we need God?

Good question. My answers? Most probably, all of us have a personally defined level of decency to which we ascribe. We think older people should be cared for, and we think husbands should not cheat on their wives. We think of honoring people who serve others or their countries, even without being asked, and certainly those who are not being honored are especially noble people. We think murder is wrong and fair wages and a fair go should be extended to everyone. Mostly true? OK.

But how many of us actually live up to that decency standard? If we are rigorously honest with ourselves, we all fall short of this standard. We don't want to fail, but in whatever category we lay out, it is in that field that we have personally failed.

"Of course," you say. "We all are human after all, and Shakespeare said, 'To err is human.' " Exactly. We live substandard lives; we fail, not all the time, but enough that if we are honest with ourselves, we wouldn't put ourselves up for the Nobel Prize of Holiness or of Giving or the Mother Teresa Doppelganger Award. Some may be closer to their decency goal and others are...well, further away.  See diagram 1.


As the diagram shows, individuals (represented by the colors reaching up) are at various levels of decency completion. Some would argue that they are approaching decency, but I aver that the more you know of the standards of human decency and the more you know yourself, the more you know how far short we fall.

But that's only human decency. I believe there is a standard which exceeds human considerations of goodness and kindness, fairness and equity. That standard is from the Almighty and no one has even gotten close to that... ever!

So what is a person to do? Give up? Not at all! The gap between our goal and our performance is titled so many things, but in my world, it's titled one thing-- "sin." And sin needs to be defined and then properly dealt with. Like any disease or injury, like any need or failing.. if we can detail it and define it, perhaps we can investigate how to overcome it.  The red spotty lines below are the separation between the God standard and our performance review. It's simply called 'sin' in the Scriptures.



This is confirmed by the Bible in the Older Testament where Solomon says, "there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who does not sin." (Eccl. 7.20) The Newer Testament echoes that with "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3.23)

The distance between our human efforts and activities of justice and decency can be long or short, but be sure of this, it exists for each of us. 

"Neither of these sounds very hopeful," I said to my Persian friends, "but there is hope!"

You see, the Almighty didn't want to leave us in this horrible situation of failure. He sent His only Son as a BRIDGE to help cross the chasm. Only He could bring it. Only He could do this. See diagram 3. 


Here we see the Bridge from heaven coming down and in our example dealing with the yellow person, particularly. One-by-one, that's how God acts. He reaches out and touches us, personally. First we admit our sins, and then He can sort out how to help us see the light. 
The hope of mankind is not in education, nor philosophy, nor even in religion. The hope of the world is Yeshua, God's only Son, our Bridge, who came from heaven to dwell among us, to live and teach, to die for our sins and to bring us to eternal life. That death 'for our sins' means to take away the guilt, the shame, the punishment that we deserved, and to bridge us back to the Lord.
The Scriptures teach this in Isaiah 53, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, we are healed. 
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." (verses 4-6)

Our sin is not the final statement. It's merely the declaration of the problem. And God as the Master Problem Solver answers with Isaiah's words, and with these from Paul, "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6.23). 

What a mighty God we have!! He loved us, made us, watched us walk away from Him into our own sins, and aches to be in relationship with us again. He sent Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, to earth to fix that identified problem. The bridge is open. What will you do? Stay on your side? Or cross over? The choice is yours. Join us on this road to Holy Destiny.

3 comments:

Bob Mendelsohn said...

The 3 of us are pictured here (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobmendo/37815620182/in/photostream/) and the actual diagram is on a napkin in front of me. How funny, eh?

Anonymous said...

A man was walking along a Florida beach and stumbled across an old lamp. He picked it up and rubbed it, and out popped a genie.

The genie said, "OK, You released me from the lamp, blah blah blah. This is the fourth time this month, and I'm getting a little sick of these wishes so you can forget about three... You only get one wish!"

The man sat, and thought about it for a while and said, "I've always wanted to go to Hawaii, but I'm scared to fly, and I get very seasick. Could you build me a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over there to visit?"

The genie laughed and said, "That's impossible!!!

Think of the logistics of that! How would the supports ever reach the bottom of the Pacific? Think of how much concrete -- how much steel!! No, think of another wish."

The man said, "OK, I'll try to think of a really good wish."

Finally, he said, "I've been married and divorced four times. My wives always said that I don't care and that I'm insensitive.

So, I wish that I could understand women, know how they feel inside, and what they're thinking when they give me the silent treatment. Know why they're crying, know what they really want when they say "nothing,", know how to make them truly happy."

The genie said, "Do you want that bridge to be two lanes or four?"

Bob Mendelsohn said...

Great old joke. Is that what my blog inspired in you?