Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Divine Intervention of God

Glory of God 1

Not long ago I watched an episode of “Intervention” on television that documented the life of Asa, a 30 year old man who struggled much of his life with bulimia nervosa and chronic alcoholism. Ultimately his family and friends recognized Asa had reached the point in his struggles with these addictions that he was about to die, and so they set up an intentional intervention for the purpose of getting him checked into a treatment center. Though initially aggressively resistant, Asa did surrender to the process and though he did experience a couple of relapses afterward, the treatment did have a transformational effect on his life.

In watching the program I found myself feeling both irritation and sympathy for Asa; irritation in that he refused to take responsibility for his behavior by blaming much of his struggles on others, and sympathy in that realized at times I struggle with that very same issue in my own life. Reflecting on all of this afterward, I also recognized this is also true for all of us. The Bible tells us that we have been “brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5) and are “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Because we are all born into this fallen world as sinners we have all grown up in families who are sinners, and thus are to some degree dysfunctional. "Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned" (Romans 5:12).


Asa’s struggle with his addictions is no different that our struggle with sin. We can deny our sin and blame our sin on someone else and refuse help with our sin but the reality is – "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:8,10). And even though the verse between these two tells us there is help with our sin struggle when we seek it: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9) - like Asa, even when we do seek help (confession, forgiveness, cleansing) - there will be times, just like Asa after treatment, when we will have relapses because sin will continue to be an ongoing problem for us while we live on this earth.

Yet because God intervened through Jesus Christ, there is hope: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5). In this season of celebrating the divine intervention of God through the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – may we reflect both on our great need and the even greater provision by our most sovereign God who continually shows us mercy and grace.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . and from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1: 14; 16)

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