By: Chad Hyatt
Reflection—v. 8, while we still were sinners, Christ died for us
In Lent, we draw closer to the one who loves us without measure. Nearly four weeks on, we marvel at the scandalous simplicity of the gospel: while ‘we still were sinners, Christ died for us.’ In this, Paul says, God ‘proves his love for us.’ He reminds us that we are not likely to give our lives, even for the ‘righteous’ or the ‘good.’ And yet Paul describes us as sinners, ‘ungodly,’ and ‘enemies’ of God. Make no mistake, there is a radical, transformative nonviolence at the heart of the gospel. In an age of terror and war, where anxiety about our own security threatens to trump compassion and generosity of spirit, we do well to call to mind the nonviolence of God toward us. Paul says the gospel is itself the ‘power of God to save’ everyone who trusts its gracious promise—revealing God’s own unbelievable justice (1:16-17). It is a justice where even though—or perhaps, precisely because—‘all have sinned,’ ‘they are now justified by his grace as a gift’ (3:23-24). In a word, God saves us by a kind of unilateral disarmament—from God’s side. It would seem almost blasphemous were it not the source of all our praise, as in the ancient words of the Easter vigil liturgy: ‘O happy fault that earned… so glorious a Redeemer!’ As we move toward the cross, holding dear the one who ‘died for us’ and toward the joyful triumph of life over death, let us remember the nonviolent grace of our God, who comes to us not with fists raised but with arms outstretched.
Prayer Christ who died for us, give me a nonviolent heart toward my enemies.