Sometimes traveling to Hawaii can be more of a nightmare than a vacation to paradise...
Let me explain.
As I bumble my way through the morning news, I am starkly reminded of the biggest problem our world faces today.
It is not a global pandemic; not a broken immigration problem;
not terrorism, nor threat of war;
not the out-of-control social media, nor the world's liberal media agenda;
it isn't a lacking educational system, nor is it the incredible plight and repercussions of poverty;
it isn't the dire need for clean water world-wide; and, it certainly isn't the lack of wise governing across the continents....
From as far back as I can think, ingrained in me is the essence of the real problem:
The sin that resides in the hearts of mankind.
It is an "anthropos" problem (Greek word for man-faced).
Put simply, if you sport the face of a human (and, surprisingly, this horrific affliction does not show partiality), you are diseased.
Defined, sin is knowing what to do and not doing it.
Conversely, it means I know what not to do and still do it.
Illustratively, sin is attempting to swim the distance from the California shores to the Hawaiian islands... THAT WIDE!
It doesn't matter if you are Mark Spitz, Caeleb Dressel, Adam Peaty, Regan Smith, Katie Ledecky......or Peg Forrest -
None of us can swim the distance.
We all fall short of the goal.
The "anthropos" goal and the solution for our problem has been set before us in Scripture.
Our man-faced solution came to earth with a man-face (!), dressed in flesh and blood, and lived a sinless perfect life.
His name was Jesus.
Every so often, what Jesus achieved on my behalf flattens me.
The gospel story never gets old.
It drips into my soul like coffee into an old fashioned drip-pot, until it is so full coffee spills over.
That was my story this week.
It came simply, as mentioned, one drop at a time, until I saw again the beauty and the magnitude of this simple little theological word:
J U S T I F I C A T I O N
Sometimes I am blinded to its significance.
Sometimes I stand on the shores of Cali and look toward Kauii and think to myself,"I betcha with just enough training, I can swim there...."
(Not really; NOT EVER!)
But, that's what I'm saying, when in reality I think, "I'm not so sinful...I'm not THAT bad...I mean, I'm no terrorist; and, I do some pretty good things!"
(by the way, that's not just me...all of us minimize our sinfulness, trying to "justify" ourselves in our minds....)
This week, though, the weightiness of my problematic heart descended into my soul.
It arrived as a GIFT from above, a glimmer of light, reflecting in the corners the cluttered debris that I shoved there - very much like the junk that used to hide under my bed as a kid (until I moved out of my childhood room).
And as I stood looking at it all, I heard a commotion.
Turning, I saw myself in a courtroom, the judge entering, the court attendant saying, "All rise..."
I was on trial; and, there I stood condemned, my "filthy anthropos-heart" uncovered for all the world to see...
When someone held it up right next to the perfect anthropos-heart of Jesus, I knew damnation - moreover, I knew exactly what that meant.
The judge, the RIGHTEOUS JUDGE, raised the gavel in His hand, ready to strike....
When someone said, "Wait!"
Jesus stood in front of me, blood ran red, spilling over me...and, in that moment, I believed as never before that what exploded from His broken heart was ALL I NEEDED to be cured of my man-faced-disease.
I heard the gavel land from up on the bench; and, I heard the words of the JUDGE, though I couldn't see His face for Jesus grounded between us, "Sinner, you who have believed on my Son, you are RIGHTEOUS!"
Go in peace... (Romans 5:1)
It was an immediate and final transaction....
...that all might know, but especially me....I am INNOCENT!
There will be no penalty - ever.
Here-in is the solution for us all.
No matter who tries to minimize sin with their pretty words...we need JUSTIFICATION.
Even if the most influential person on earth tells us sin is NOT THE PROBLEM, believe that it is!
We can never swim to Honolulu.
Justification is not just a pardon.
Not just forgiveness.
It is the righteousness of Jesus imputed to me...
No grounds for punishment, for the temple that is my heart was swept clean - a fit and Holy Place for the sweet Spirit of the Lord to dwell.
And, I know why Paul's heart so strongly beat for the gospel to remain pure; why he fought so hard for salvation by grace alone through Christ alone in faith alone.
Without Jesus, Hawaii is just a nightmare - not a dream!
(hope you catch the metaphor...)