It’s far too easy for the Gospel to get watered down, especially when you live in the Bible belt. For much of my life, I held nothing more than a watered down view of Jesus. To me, it was common knowledge that Jesus had died on the cross, and that He rose again, bringing salvation to all who believed in Him. It was as good as fact.
But it didn’t prompt me to worship.
I’ve been reading through Exodus recently, and I came across the following passage in Exodus 4:
Then the people of Israel were convinced that the Lord had sent Moses and Aaron. When they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
Exodus 4:31 (NLT)
The Israelites are in Egypt, experiencing a lot of hardship. Years ago (I don’t know exactly how long ago it had been, but it was when Moses had been born, and now he was a grown man), the Egyptians subjected the Israelites to harsh slavery and subjugation.
The Israelites have been crying out for help to God, it says in 2:23. And now, when they have realized that God has heard their cries and has sent someone to help them, their immediate response is to bow down and worship.
The Exodus is the great delivery of the Old Testament, you could say. It’s a fantastic moment displaying God’s care for His people and God deliverance of His people. And it’s rivaled only by Jesus dying on the cross.
If the Israelites, so many years ago, worshiped God for His promise to deliver them from the Egyptians, how much more should we worship God for sending His Son to suffer for our sins and deliver us for eternity?
But for some reason, many of us almost seem to take the Gospel for granted. At least, I certainly do sometimes.
Why? Why do we do that?
The answer I’ve found, at least to explain my own foolishness, is that I place too much importance on myself and thus diminish God’s holiness.
Let’s just walk through that for a minute.
God created everything in existence. And then He created us. We are nothing more than God’s creation. We exist only because God made us. That right there is enough reason for us to literally owe our entirely lives to Him.
But let’s go even further. He made us in His image, with an eternal soul, and He gave us free will. We took that free will and sinned against Him. Setting off a continuous line of rebellious people who betray God and turn away from Him.
God’s own creation continually rebelled against Him, believing they could manage on their own and essentially calling Him useless.
Mind you, this is an eternal, perfect, holy, and just God we’re calling useless. It’s crazy, right?
God, perfect and just as He is, had – and still has – every right to punish us. We chose to separate ourselves from Him, we chose to sin against His perfection, and God can’t have imperfection in His holy and perfect domain, that is, heaven. So what is He to do with this little rebel creation of His?
The first option is to forget about them. They chose to rebel against them, so God has every right to let them do their sinful thing and move about His holy eternal life. Naturally, because we have an eternal soul, that would mean condemnation for us. It would mean eternal punishment, hell, separation from God forever.
That is justice. That is us getting what we deserve.
But God didn’t choose that option. Instead, God chose to pursue his little rebel creations and sent His own Son, God in the flesh, to take our punishment for us. Say what?!
God, the King of kings, God of angel armies, Creator of the universe, died a painful death on the cross to take the punishment for a crime he never committed. He took the blame that was never His in the first place. For a closer look at just how unfathomable that is, feel free to read Abigail: A Reflection of the Cross.
And because He lived a perfect, blameless life (He was God – hello!) He conquered the grave and rose again after three days. And now, through His death and resurrection, we have eternal life if we only place our faith and trust in Him.
We, the greatest rebels of all time (well, aside from Satan), have been reunited with our holy and awesome God to live eternally with Him because He chose to pursue us and take our punishment on His shoulders.
After understanding – and I mean really understanding – the story of the Gospel, how can I dare to think that God was supposed to save me? In other words, how can I possibly feel entitled to salvation? If anything, I’m entitled to condemnation.
I am a dirty, rebellious creation. But it is my imperfection that magnifies the perfect love of God, in that He chose to save me despite my imperfection.
Which is why even the mention of God’s promise of deliverance – the greatest of which is Jesus Christ on the cross – should prompt us to worship. How can we read such promises and nod and forget about it, to simply carry on with our lives, as if nothing huge had just been told to us?
The Israelites had it right. God’s deliverance is no small thing. It’s an incredible, life-giving, undeserved love that pursues us all the days of our lives, as it says in Psalm 23:6.
And it is because of His deliverance that we need not fear death, or worry about anything in life. God loves us, in our dirty, imperfect state, and He will deliver us from all things, in due time.
Jesus said, at the end of a sermon about not worrying:
So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
Luke 12:32 (NLT)
So I rejoice and I worship in the notion that the King of kings is given great happiness by giving me the Kingdom.