Tuesday, August 17, 2010

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

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In Isaiah 53:5, we have the promise “…by his wounds we are healed.” We know that even after becoming Christians, we do not have disease-free lives. Nor do we have healing every time our organs break down. What then is the healing that Isaiah refers to?

Healing is defined as “to become whole and sound”. In this regard, I believe healing refers to the act of restoration to wholeness that God seeks to bring about in his crowning act of creation, i.e. us. When sin burrowed in and became rooted in our lives, it marred the very image he created us, that image which God said was “very good.” It is true that when Christ suffered and died for us, he did it so that our sins could be forgiven by trusting in him as Saviour. However, Christ’s sacrifice also made possible our reconciliation with God and the Holy Spirit’s residence in us. Through all these heavenly riches, the healing of our sin-scarred image is made possible. I guess that is why GRACE forms an apt acrostic for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

In Richard Foster’s “Life with God”, he says grace is something God invites us to experience. Grace is more than just forgiveness of sin, which is what we tend to think it to be. Grace is experiencing the richness of God in helping us live an overcomer’s life. We are now able to overcome the sins that make us dishonour God. We are now able to overcome the hurt of others by forgiving them. We are now able to learn to live on less so that we can give more to God’s work or to others more in need. We are strengthened when we face financial crunches like debt, failed investments and falling property rates. We persevere through issues like job loss or instability, conflict at work, etc. We learn to do good even to those who victimize us in school.

In some of these cases, it could be due to our own fault arising from our disobedience of God’s laws. If so, we need to confess it to Christ, ask for forgiveness and resolve the wrong especially if others have also been hurt. It could also be due to others’ wrongdoing (spouse’s abuse, work-related stress, fraud by people we trusted, etc. It could also just part of our earthly life, e.g. cancer, physical/mental breakdowns, accidents or death of loved ones. In times like these, when we are innocent of wrongdoing, it can be easy to let discouragement overcome us. Yet, it is in times like these that God lavishes his grace on us to carry us through such trials. His grace will lift our heads to look up in faith and be assured that God is good, even when life is not good.

In 2009, I have no doubt that many of us will face such trials. To live the overcomer’s life is simply to maintain God’s perspective in all circumstances. His perspective is for our trials to make us “mature and complete” (James 1:2-4), i.e. making us whole and sound. Our trials are the very means of our healing, through God’s grace. Therefore, let us maintain God’s perspective and continue reading His Word and listening to His Spirit. This will help us answer questions such as “what would God have me do?”, “what does God think of me?”, etc. We also need to persevere in our life together because that may well be the means through which his grace enables us to grow in Christlikeness. It may also be the means for us to seek godly counsel from others around us and who have our interests at heart. When we do all these things, we will be cooperating with God as he brings about the healing of the stained image of Christ in us.

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