September 4, 2019·Ben McEntee
Geography. I recall getting a D in geography in my first semester of college, but there I was, helping my 9-year-old daughter, Lucy, with some geography questions for an upcoming test this week. One question asked how you pinpoint a location on a map by using latitude and longitude lines. If you need a refresher, the answer is something like this: you can do it by finding where the latitude and longitude lines intersect at that specific location. Or something like that — again, my geography skills go about as far as “clouds are cloudy.”
This week, in our Pause Bible reading plan, we have the opportunity to read the Book of Galatians. This letter is an extremely directed appeal by the Apostle Paul to his fellow Christians to return to their first love, that is, Christ, and to let go of religious legalism, which had bound the churches in a “yoke of slavery.”
Paul begins his letter with a shorter than usual greeting and blessing, followed by these words, spoken of Christ, as the One “who gave Himself for our sins, to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4, italics mine). Paul is about to admonish these churches for turning away from the true Gospel and, before he does, Paul reminds us of what that truly is. We are invited to look at the connection between Christ’s death and our sins. Those two things have an intersecting point, where you can pinpoint the moment when we, as sinful people, were rescued by God. That intersecting point is the Cross itself. I believe that when we dig deep into God’s Word and mine it’s riches, we will, most often, be brought to or reminded of the Cross of Christ. Because it’s at that place where the relationship between His death and our sin is made so plain. It’s at the Cross, where Jesus Christ gave Himself to ransom us from our sin.
Can the word “Himself” ever include more than one person? No, it can’t. Christ did it alone. “In Christ alone” is something I’ve heard Christians say; unfortunately, we don’t act as if it’s true all the time. It’s our natural tendency to attempt to do things on our own. To go at it alone, but nowhere have I ever sung these words: “in myself alone” — no, that doesn’t have the same ring to it; it doesn’t have the same power. Why? Because I understand the depth of my weakness. I understand the deep flaws that make up me. If I think about this kind of thing long enough, it can negatively affect my emotions – I can become deeply troubled at what I lack. But, if I turn to the sweet words of Scripture, to the Holy Spirit’s gentle whispers in the Bible, I can clearly see where my lackingintersects with Christ’s giving. And it’s there, in my labor, in my struggle, in daily living, that I can lay down my weakness and be clothed in Christ’s righteousness and find true rest.
This week, I invite you to take a moment and rest in the truth of the Cross. Rest in that intersecting moment, because it was Christ’s moment, when He alone rescued us from our sins.
Pastor Ben McEntee