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Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekend Snippet: Old Eyes, New Eyes

As I write this, a new second-cousin is being born--one of several new additions being added to my extended family this year. It makes me think about the value of human life, which was first valued by God.

If judging by the contributions an individual makes to the "greater good" or some physical beauty or ability, it is easy to miss the point and bog the argument down in politics and statistics and supposed scientific measurements.  It is way too easy to overlook the value of one person while praising the apparent value of another. It is also easy to look at all the pain and suffering that comes with living and decide that living is no longer worthwhile.

In fact, it is too easy to take life for granted while we have it, to overlook the beautiful gift that it is when we look at others, and to miss the point of life entirely while we have the chance.

The basic reason for living is God. The basic value of life was set by God, when He called it "good." Finally, the basic purpose of life is to find eternal life, and hold on tight to it when we've found it.

"Good" Is Such an Understatement

When God created life, He looked at it and called it "good" (Genesis 1: 31 NIV). I always thought that was an understatement, especially at high points in life when we feel like shouting for joy at the "stupendousness" of life.  You know what? I see now it didn't need extreme words to describe it. There is something simple but perfectly elegant about life, which can only be summarized in such a simple but completely fitting word. Life is good, even when it seems bad.  But, I'll get to that.

Life got so complicated, full of crests and troughs like the surface of the ocean, when Adam and Eve tried to have life and live it their way, too. They stepped away from the pattern of goodness and planned to continue in this broken pattern forever. Then God put a deadline on their evil--a little thing called "death" (Genesis 3)--and it looked like it was all over. But, was it?

Pressing On Toward the Goal

 God called life "good" because it was one of those absolute qualities of Himself that creation reflected, dimly sometimes, but clearly.  Death was necessary because He also had to uphold justice and mercy (two other eternal qualities of himself), but He couldn't let life come to an end because of sin. Failing to uphold this eternal ordinance was just as bad as letting injustice stand.  He couldn't do it!

That is why God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to uphold life by paying the penalty for sin with His own life.  He sent Christ because He wanted to show to us how seriously and personally He took this whole situation.  Christ was sinless, just like His Father, but He willingly died, so we who had sinned could have a chance to regain the eternal life we had forfeited.  It was the only way to uphold justice and uphold life at the same time, and Christ did it!

Now, people laugh and scoff at this, saying it's all a fairytale, but it does make logical sense that the toughest, most complicated questions have simple answers.  We don't need to figure out where life comes from, or try to isolate a substance, or draw up genealogies. We just need to believe that God is the source of life, and go to Him, and ask for Him to give us the life that He won on the cross.  If we go to Him seeking life earnestly, He will reward our search (Hebrews 11: 6).

God made life.  He values it so highly that He committed His own son, the embodiment of His Word, His goodness, and His purposes (John 1: 1-5 NIV) to the preservation of life.  And finally, He offers this perfect life which He has protected as a replacement for this broken version of life we are now living.  I can't think of a greater goal for this current existence than to seek the things He values--the foremost being eternal life--which we receive now and enjoy even after these old eyes have closed for the last time.

This Easter season, Christians everywhere will celebrate the life that God birthed with the Resurrection of His son, "The firstborn among many" (Romans 8: 29 NIV). What we are talking about is this eternal life, this "new" life, that is pure and clean like new eyes, patterned the way life should have been before sin broke it.  Do you have eternal life today?