God Doesn't Give Up

January is a month of newness. A new year begins and with it comes all sorts of New Years resolutions. Maybe you made some this year or maybe you’ve made them in the past.  As long as you’ve made at least one resolution in your past then you probably won’t be surprised by something I read last week.
            Apparently there is a company that studies New Year’s resolutions and they predicted by their studies that January 19th was the day that people would give up on their New Year’s resolutions.  Can you believe that? 19 days is all it takes for us to give up on these pledges that we make to make our lives better.
            That’s really what New Year’s resolutions are all about, right? Making choices to make our lives better. Exercising more usually seems to top the list.  Eating better.  Quitting smoking. Reading more books. Maybe reading through the Bible or going to church more. So many things make it onto our list of resolutions and then after 19 days we give them up and slide back into our old habits again.  Even our best laid plans that have our best interest in mind are incredibly difficult to keep.
            This all got me thinking about how we are loved by a God — the God of the universe — who never fails and never gives up on anything or anybody. This is remarkable because if anyone had a reason or even the right to give up, it would be God.
            Think about it, if we go all the way back to the beginning of everything we see God create the world simply by speaking it into existence. He creates everything that exists including man and woman. He puts them in the Garden of Eden and tells them to trust him for everything, care for the creation, be fruitful and multiply, and not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Simple, right? Works well enough for a while, but like our New Year’s resolutions, that obedience is quickly scrapped when the temptation to be like God becomes too much for them to bear.
            Here’s where God would have been well within his rights to just destroy everything, or at the least just walk away from it all. He had given people a simple set of instructions and they willfully disobeyed him and corrupted everything that had been perfect.  However, that’s not what God does, instead he makes a promise that he would send someone to make all things right again.  He would send his son. It’s a promise that he reiterated over and over again until that first Christmas when Jesus was born into this world and God began fulfilling his promise.
            St. Paul summarizes this commitment that God shows to us nicely in Romans 5 where he writes, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
            The awesome news that we have from God, our loving father, is that he was willing to come and make things right even when we didn’t care.  Paul says that God showed his love by coming to die in our place while we were still sinner.  Who would you die for? Maybe your spouse? Your children? I bet your list is pretty short of people that you would just be willing to give up your life so that they could live.
            That’s what God was willing to do — give his life in exchange for yours.  Jesus came into the world and spent time preaching and teaching.  He did miracles and healed people of a variety of illnesses and physical issues.  He even raised people from the dead.  All of this demonstrated the power that he had as God in the flesh dwelling among his people.
            Finally, in an act of betrayal by one of his close friends, he is arrested and turned over to the authorities where he is eventually killed on a cross.  It seems tragic and yet that death was intentional.  Jesus came to die on the cross so that you could live forever.  He came to die on the cross so that your sins could be forgiven.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t know him yet, he still loves you and wants you to be a part of his family.
            Jesus did all of the heavy lifting — while you were still a sinner he died for you.  Your sins are forgiven.  New life is yours through faith in him.
            So while we might not be so good at sticking with commitments that we make like New Year’s Resolutions.  Thanks be to God that he sticks with what he says he’s going to do — especially when it involves our salvation.  God is faithful no matter what happens and that is great news for us!
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Tom Schlund

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