Who will save us?
In Paul’s letter to the people of the Church in Corinth (Corinthians 10:1-24) is a passage that we all should memorise and store into our hearts, a passage that we can all know in times of testing, some of you will know this passage from 1 Corinthians 10:13
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to everyone. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it”.
For Christians who endeavour to follow Christ’s teachings and commandments, we know that sometimes we will be tested and like Jesus we will be tempted and Paul is telling us that with Christ in our heart, we will be able to stand under these temptations and testings.
What is important, I think to notice is that Paul is referring to the temptations and testing of our world, we do not live in a heavenly place where there is all perfection and all goodness, we live in a world where there is also evil and sometimes we can be part of that evil.
Jesus refers to this in our parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30). The Wheat will grow in a field of weeds and the weeds are not removed for fear of also damaging the wheat, the world we live in is one of goodness and evil.
Many times people will ask ‘why does God allow this evil to happen, why is there suffering in our world, surely God can’t be good if all this happens’. Of course these are statements born out of suffering in people’s lives and out of being exposed to the evil in the world which it is very easy to access, along with all the good things, in our internet based communications. God of course isn’t bad he is good and it is Satan who brings about evil.
Paul in his letter to the Romans points out that for those who ignore God in their lives and ignore his goodness then they will be handed over to the idols of the world, they will know the consequences of the sin in their lives and in the world.
Being exposed to the evil in the world, which is especially relevant for young people because for them the information on the internet is widely available, world situations become instantly accessible and they are not protected from them, the world we live in can become an anxious place and not a good and wholesome place.
People can ask questions about the purpose of life and find no answer, they can ask questions about the prospects in life only to find a lack of hope, they can ask questions about being happy and fulfilled, to find no solution, they can ask questions about suffering in the world and find a sense of fear.
People react in different ways, some resort to escapism in drink and drugs and other idols of the world. Some will not want to bring children into the world, some will resort to taking control themselves and even become extreme, some will become anxious and even depressed, some will insist on living their lives for themselves and condemn those who are different, some will blame God and remove him from their lives.
God’s story isn’t about bringing suffering into the world or stopping suffering in the world, the weeds will grow with the wheat, but his story is about providing a way out for us so that we can stand in this world knowing the goodness and holiness of Christ and knowing that he brings us to him to be loved by him. We come to see God’s goodness and we come to see his son Jesus Christ saving us from the world so that we can live lives with him and know a purpose in life, know the prospects in a life lived with Christ, know the hope in the world, know the healing where there is brokenness, know courage and strength and overwhelming love and not fear. We know Christ as our Saviour, where sins are forgiven, the price for them is paid with his life on the cross and he breaks into our world with his resurrected presence to bring us love and peace and joy in our innermost being. Christ is our Saviour, he rescues us from the pit.
As the Psalmist says “O LORD, God of my salvation, when, at night, I cry out in your presence, let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry”. (Psalm 88). Christ is our salvation, not the idols or evils of the world.
Paul tells us again of the story of the Exodus, of God’s people being saved by him through Moses and Aaron from slavery in Egypt to the Promise Land. Their journey was a difficult one but they were free and God was accompanying them, he was saving them. However many turned away from him and put God to the test and they found that they were then easy prey to the evil of the world and they suffered the consequences. Paul warns us not to do the same.
God came to live with us as his son Jesus Christ, to tell us how to live, to show us the immense and overwhelming love that God has for us. People who encounter Jesus Christ encounter the holy and the good and they know the sin in themselves and the brokenness in the world. But the world arrested Jesus, mocked him, whipped him and then made him carry a newly cut cross of green wood through the streets of Jerusalem to his crucifixion on a hill outside the city. As he struggled with his burden, people came to follow him and many women wailed for him. He turned to them and said
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
If the world crucified Christ, it’s Saviour and Prince of Peace when he was on earth, how much more will it need to be saved when the wood has become dry years later, 2,016 years later? How much more Jesus is saying will evil abound? But for those who turn to Christ, the cross, that instrument of torture and execution, they find that it brings forgiveness of sins and brings redemption, it brings us freedom, it brings us the love of a pure and good God into our hearts, it brings us a new way of life, it looks evil in the eye and defeats it, it rescues us to a life in this world and the next. Christ took our punishment on the cross, so that we don’t have to, so that we can live a life filled with God’s love.
The weeds will not strangle the wheat, the wheat will thrive amongst the weeds until the harvest and then they will be extracted. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross brings hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, love to the unlovely, purpose where there seems to be no purpose. It demands that we follow him, God’s way, is not the way of idols, jealousy, shame, judging others, sexual immorality, violence, addiction, anger. The cross of Christ gives us a way out from these sins, we can come in repentance and faith and know forgiveness, love, grace and peace and a new way of life lived in love and generosity. We are transformed because we know the love of Christ in our lives and he gives us a way out.
Christ is our Saviour, not the idols and evils of the world, he redeems us from the pit.
The way of Christ in our world today, is the way, because it is through Christ that we can stand before God and know his presence in our lives in a very real way, we come to know healing and transformation and goodness and holiness and we are able to share this with others. Many Christians will not engage in the temptation and testing of the evil in our world. Why would you go back to this when you know something better? We keep ourselves walking in the new found freedom of Christ and away from the evil that pervades the world.
The cross has a power of its own to bring about salvation and redemption in our lives. The question isn’t why does God allow suffering in the world, the question is who is going to rescue us from the evil in the world? The answer is Christ, he took our place on the cross so that we can be saved, he gave his life so that we may know freedom and know truth, he took our sin upon him so that we may know goodness and love from God.
Then he tells us “No temptation has seized you except what is common to everyone. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it”.