The “good news” presented in the Bible can be succinctly defined as simply, “You don’t have to be as you are.”
By God’s grace and our hard work, we can change and we can keep on changing. We don’t have to exist as nobodies. We don’t have to remain trapped in our current circumstances and be defined by some stupid mistake or choice we made. Life can be different. “What we will be has not been revealed.” We can be born again and again and again.
The terms “born again” and “get right with God” indicate the eternal truth that, before God can most effectively use us to do his will, we all have to go through some form of transformation. None of us is naturally born ready to be God’s ambassador of reconciliation.
Paul clearly spells out for us the truth that we cannot change ourselves. Only God, our creator, knows what needs to happen to make possible our functioning as He intends. Therefore, God sending us Jesus to redeem us is a tremendous blessing to celebrate in the Advent season.
Another facet of this blessing is the blessing of unconditional love, which reveals that we have the potential for helping God make the world as he designed it to be. Out of this love comes another facet, the blessing of freedom. We are saved from our worst selves and thus freed to be our best selves. We are freed from being a slave to greed, selfishness, envy, revenge – from all that encompasses our being under the control of sin and the evil one.
We are still sinners, but no longer under the powerful control of sin and Satan. We don’t have to prove ourselves worthy of God’s love or anyone else’s love. We are loved just as we are; therefore we can concentrate on living a life where the primary focus is service to others and helping restore this old world to God’s original design.
As we turn over this gem called “God’s grace in Jesus Christ,” we see another blessing on one of its facets: the blessing of the Holy Spirit. The validation of this other blessing from God comes via the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul uses the term “guarantee” to describe this blessing. Through the enabling power and peace of the Holy Spirit we experience a foretaste of the heavenly blessings to come.
As we enter the Advent season, let us allow God to bless us and keep us, so that we can continue to be born again and again to be more effective ambassadors of reconciliation in the world of people who are terribly polarized, divided and estranged from one another.
THE REV. GENE NORRIS IS A PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR IN AUGUSTA.