You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
I pray that it doesn’t happen to any of us often, but perhaps you know what it’s like to be so “stomach flu sick” that any sort of movement, whatsoever, is going to make bad things happen. So, the cool bathroom floor becomes your temporary bed, and all you can do is stay put. That’s the picture Paul paints of mankind’s natural spiritual state with the word powerless. Too weak to move, helpless, and pathetic.
But it gets worse. Paul also describes himself, his hearers, and us as “ungodly.” Day after day, time after time, we cross our arms and dig in our heels, turning away from the things God wants, and turning toward all kinds of things that will wreck us. Who would actively seek out people so foolish? Who would patiently and repeatedly welcome back people who’ve acted so selfishly, knowing that their NEXT selfish act is only moments away?
Paul goes on to say that someone might be willing to give up their life for a noble cause, but who dies for a scoundrel? A degenerate? A parasite? Jesus does. So excessive is God’s affection, so unwavering is God’s commitment to save, that Jesus died for the ungodly. How surprising, how unexpected!
And it begs the question, who might be the surprising recipients of the love that we now show to others? It’s pretty easy to love the people who love us (although that’s not always such a cinch either!). When we love them, it’s generally not all that surprising. But it’s when we show kindness to and sacrifice for those who make us clench our teeth, that’s when we are most closely imitating our Savior, and reflecting the surprising love that that continues to be shown to us. Holy Spirit, help us do this!
Lord Jesus, you laid down your life for me when I was helpless and ungodly. That is good news, both surprising and welcomed! Send me your Holy Spirit in powerful Word, that I may grow in faith and show genuine love and kindness to friends and enemies alike. I ask it in your name and to your glory. Amen.