“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
When our Master taught us to love our enemies so that we might be like our Father in the heavens (Matthew 5:44-45), He really meant it. He wasn’t offering a naive idealism that works until it’s time to actually live in the real world. No, He was calling all who trust Him to live, and possibly to die, as He did: loving those who are against you.
I urge you to carefully consider the implications of the apostle Paul’s words quoted above. Notice when Christ died for us. “When we were still powerless”, while we were ungodly, and “While we were still sinners”. When we were still enemies, God showed the most incredible love toward us. The Father sent His Son, and the Son died for us! Not for the “us” we ought to have been. Not for the “us” we put on when we’re in public and want to impress others. No, He died for the real “us” that was enslaved to and dead in sin. He died for the “us” that thumbed our noses at God and willingly walked the rebellious way of our first father and mother. When we were powerless to change our own hearts or the predicament our corrupted hearts had gotten us into, that’s when Christ died for us.
The timing of this is very important. He didn’t die for us before we had a need for redemption and reconciliation. He didn’t die for us once we had straightened up and started flying right. No, it was smack dab into the middle of the miserable human story of sin that God sent His Beloved. It was to a needy and helpless people that He came.
This matters, Disciple, because this should move us to both gratitude and repentance. We should be immeasurably grateful because the God who is there is a God who would do this for His enemies. The God who is there is a God who is willing to extend unspeakably great love to those who have rebuffed Him at every turn. The God of authority, majesty, and power made the first move toward reconciliation when He had every right to ignore or destroy us.
Likewise, we should be moved to repentance because we have failed to love our enemies this way. We have contented ourselves with not hating them. We have happily received His loving overtures to reconcile while refusing to entertain the idea of reconciling with those who have so deeply wounded us. The story Jesus told of “the Unmerciful Servant” comes to mind here (see Matthew 18:21-35). How can we withhold from others what has been so freely and joyfully offered to us by the King Himself?
Oh, Disciple, let us love others while they’re still insensitive, still jerks, still thoughtless, still cruel – still unworthy and sinful. That’s “just the right time”. That’s God’s time and ours.
Learning to love as I’ve been loved,