Three Front and Center Realities for Christians: #3 — Redemption

18 Oct

This series of posts has been dealing with three “front and center” realities for Christians.  These realities must be kept in the front of our minds or we risk falling into error.  First, we saw the reality of the beauty of the creation.  Remembering this reality keeps us grounded in hope and not given to despair.  Second, we explored the reality of brokenness, which is important to remember so that we are not unrealistically hopeful about ourselves or others.  Today, we focus on redemption, the reality that ties everything together for us as believers.

Without redemption, we have nothing.  Redemption, of course, is found not in the latest self-help program or in all my efforts to do better, but in the one who has done all things well, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Redemption is particularly centered in His work on the cross, where Jesus bore the wrath of God for our sin so that, trusting not in ourselves but in His atoning death, we have eternal life.

Redemption is our message, it is our heartbeat, it touches everything.  I regard no one as too far gone, because the redeeming work of Christ can save the worst of sinners.  I regard myself as not beyond help, because the one who saves also sanctifies.  I am not ultimately bound by my brokenness.  Nor is the world bound by its brokenness.  Redemption is individual, but it is more than that.  God is not only saving sinners through the work of Christ, He is renewing the world.  And one day, in the end, this work will be complete.  As the old hymn goes, “Jesus who died will be satisfied and earth and heaven will be one.”

The embittered guy who comes to church week after week has forgotten redemption, if he ever knew it at all.  He needs to remember that the scars of the past are forgiven in Christ.  He needs to remember that the breakdown of his body is not the end of his story.  The person who has been burned by another needs to remember redemption.  As C.S. Lewis said, “God has forgiven the inexcusable in us, so that we can forgive the inexcusable in others.”  We have an example of such grace in the cross that, if we heed it, we will be enabled to forgive even the worst offenses.

Holding these three realities together gives us a coherent worldview.  This worldview matches reality, which is one of the reasons Christianity is so compelling to me.  Human experience is best defined through these realities: the world is beautiful, the world is broken and the world is redeemable.  Only biblical Christianity strikes the right balance in these matters.  Humanism is too optimistic for reality.  As just one example, consider John Lennon’s ode to humanism, his song Imagine?  It’s wildly optimistic and out of step with reality with or without religion.  Interestingly, much of pop Christianity like what we see on TV is overly optimistic as well.  This lack of balance is seen in all sorts of worldviews, most of which seem to be either too optimistic or overly pessimistic.  Christianity coheres with the world as it is, therefore, to believe in Jesus is not a blind leap in the dark, or akin to a belief in the flying spaghetti monster, to believe in Jesus is to acknowledge the reality of what we see: the world is beautiful, the world is broken, the world is redeemable.

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