Friday, May 22, 2015

Commentary: God always takes the initiative

God always takes the initiative

Memory Text: The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost(Luke 19:10, NKJV).

If we were to write a mission statement for Jesus, we could not do any better than to repeat His own words: To seek and to save that which was lost.

While all religions portray the human being in search for God, Christianity presents God as the seeker: Adam, where are you (Gen. 3:9)? Cain, where is your brother (Gen. 4:9)? Elijah, what are you doing here (1 Kings 19:9)? Zacchaeus, come down (Luke 19:5). What was lost? It was humanity itself, which was alienated from God, subject to death, and filled with fear, disappointment, and despair. However, thanks to Jesus we all have great reasons to be hopeful.  If nothing were done in our behalf, all would be lost.

"In the apostasy, man alienated himself from God; earth was cut off from heaven. Across the gulf that lay between, there could be no communion. But through Christ, earth is again linked with heaven. With His own merits, Christ has bridged the gulf which sin had made. .. Christ connects fallen man in his weakness and helplessness with the Source of infinite power." - Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 20.

God always takes the initiative to look for us because it is not in our nature to look for Him. This is why Paul writes in Romans 5: 8, "…that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

God set up a plan from the beginning of the world to save us if we sinned. John says that "…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). The plan was put in effect when Adam fell. Adam did not ask for it. But, at finding out about it Adam responded with gratitude.  From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a story of God seeking after lost humanity. Luke illustrates this truth by using three important parables: the lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7), the lost coin (vss. 8-10), and the lost son (vss. 11-32).

In the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15: 4 – 7), the sheep is lost, knows that is lost, but does not the way back, and does not know how to find it. It may wander in the wilderness until it dies trying to get back or just gives up. The sheep need the shepherd to look for it and bring it back. The shepherd takes the initiative to find it. But, to make sure the sheep does not wander again the shepherd may need to resort to extreme measures like breaking its legs. The shepherd brought the sheep back, and with joy restored it to the fold, as if the sheep had never wandered away. 

In the parable of the lost coin (Like 15: 8 – 10), the coin was lost in its own house. The coin, of course, did not know it. Therefore, it had no clue about its need to be rescued. The woman takes the initiative to find the coin and does everything in her power to do so. The woman in the parable cleans the entire house just to find the one coin, even when she still had more. The woman rejoiced as she restored the coin to its proper place as if the coin had never been misplaced.

Last is the parable of prodigal son. After wasting a fortune reluctantly given to him by his father he ended up working at a pigsty feeding the pigs. This was something not only humiliating to a person of means but also an abomination for any Jew. This is an example of how low Sin takes us. But, the prodigal son remembered his former life in his home, and how good even the servants had it. The prodigal son remembered his way back home. He needed no outside rescue. However, his father was watching and waiting for him by the entrance of the home. He received his son with open arms and restored to his former position as if the son had never left. (In real life, when the "prodigal sons' remember their way it is the Holy Spirit reminding them.)

These parables not only show how we are lost, they also show God's grace and mercy. God does whatever is in His power to save us. We see that in the parables. And, He receives us with His unconditional love. All the process of Salvation is always God's initiative. We just respond, hopefully with gratitude – heartfelt appreciation – for what he has done for us. As He works in us He awaits for that response to restore us to the position we had before the fall.  Ellen White says about this.

"Whatever may have been your past experience, however discouraging your present circumstances, if you will come to Jesus just as you are, weak, helpless, and despairing, our compassionate Saviour will meet you a great way off, and will throw about you His arms of love and His robe of righteousness."—Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 9.

When there is a desire to come to Him – however faint – there is still a chance. This desire is wrought from God trying to woo you to Him. Are we responding to Him?