Fighting to breathe when there’s plenty of air

“You’re the best!” That’s what a friend of mine would always say when he was at the end of a conversation with folks. Another friend of mine ended all of his letters with “You are loved.”

I don’t think the Good News from God about God comes across like this. Often I have made God out as really angry at sin and sinners who is ready and willing to destroy us if Jesus didn’t step between us.

Don’t get me wrong, God doesn’t like sin. God doesn’t like sin anymore than any parent likes a bully picking on his or her child. I think that sin is like that to God. I know that bullies get my blood boiling. How much more for a God of justice and love?

Sin destroys and demeans us. Sin promises joy, peace, and comfort. At times it seems to work, too. Ultimately, the promises of sin are found empty and the pleasure is fleeting and the life we thought we had is only death in disguise. That doesn’t stop us from trying to recapture the pleasure it brought us.

Somehow I got the message wrong for a long time. A lot of us did. Sadly, some still do. For the record: God is not mad at you. The writer of Hebrews said this, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he[Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”[1] God destroys the source of sin not the sinner.

If you and I were in a room and the oxygen was being sucked out of the room, we would get frantic and start doing things to each other and ourselves that we would never have done if we weren’t desperate to breathe. That is something that God understands. We are desperate for life and we aren’t finding it. Jesus wants to give us life. He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”[2]

The message I want you to hear is that an abundant and inexhaustible source of true and satisfying life is freely available to each and every person in the world. We don’t need to hoard it because there is more than enough to go around.

I’m sorry I’ve made it sound like God wants to squash you and punish you for trying to breathe. It is really just the opposite. God wants to hold you in strong and loving arms and reassure you that you are loved, you are safe, and that you are enough. And while sin is being destroyed in our lives, God can appear angry and scary. Just remember that parent defending his or her child.

God says, “”I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”[3] And there is nothing that can separate us from that love.[4]

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[5]

I just thought you should know.


[1] Hebrews 2.14-15

[2] John 10.10

[3] Jeremiah 31.3

[4] Romans 8.38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[5] Luke 23.34

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