“We have a hope, a dream and a target for the kind of person we would like to be – the kind of husband, wife, mother, brother or sister that we would like to be. But we just miss the mark.”
Sitting in the corner at a 2nd level bar by the Singapore River, I took a quick glance at my fellow talk-goers, wondering if those words about our shared humanity also resonated with them. After all, they had come to this lunchtime talk during the week-long Festival of Thought organised by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).
That observation and statement about human lives – our falling short – by Dr Frog Orr-Ewing, social entrepreneur and former Vicar of All Saints Church in Peckham (London), was essential to our question of the day: Why did Jesus have to die?
I first felt this question surface in my young mind when I saw the newly installed crucifix in my school hall many years ago.
Dr Orr-Ewing’s proposition is that we have a universal human condition that demands a universal solution – one that Jesus Christ’s death offers.
It’s not the amount of sin in the human heart but the very existence of sin.
WE FALL SHORT
All of us have this problem within ourselves. “We’re not the people we’d wish to be,” said Dr Orr-Ewing,
We have all fallen short of the goal of excellence in the presence of our friends, neighbours, colleagues and family.
He continued: “We have targets but we don’t always meet them. That’s true in our work life. But isn’t it also true in our personal lives?”
If we recognise that we fall short of our own goals, is it not plausible to believe that we also miss the mark in wanting to do excellently in the eyes of God?
SIN SEPARATES US FROM GOD
“It doesn’t matter what cultural or ethnic background we’re from, and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life – whether in your thought life or in your practical life,” said Dr Orr-Ewing.
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All have been offered an alternative to set themselves free from shame, guilt and the distance of sin.”
On the polluting nature of sin, Dr Orr-Ewing gives this illustration:
“If somebody spat in a glass of water before giving it to me, it doesn’t matter that only 1% of it has got spit in it; it will still be considered to me to be unclean from that moment.”
In the same way, it’s not the amount of sin in the human heart but the very existence of sin within it.
“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.” (Mark 7:21-22)
So why does sin matter?
Death is a reality only because of the power and presence of sin: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV)
THE CROSS CONNECTS US TO GOD
How do we tear down this partition that sin creates? Jesus Christ’s death on the cross demonstrated God’s love for all people, but it also dealt with the power, pollution and partition of sin – they were destroyed.
“God provided a universal solution in order for us to have a free and wonderful relationship with the one who made us,” said Dr Orr-Ewing. Through the cross, God provides an opportunity for everyone to have unfettered access to Him.
Here’s another way to look at it, as shared in this video by Dr Andy Bannister who has also served with RZIM.
To paraphrase his analogy: Suppose a friend lends you an iPad but you broke it. When you bring it back to him, he says: “Don’t worry, I’ll deal with it.”
You’ve been shown mercy and forgiven by your friend. But someone still has to bear the cost of the damage.
“At the cross of Jesus Christ… Jesus paid the price of his life so that each one of us might know true forgiveness and true mercy but not at the expense of justice,” said Dr Bannister.
“…by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14 ESV)
Dr Orr-Ewing added that Jesus came to set people free from the shackles of sin and feelings of unworthiness.
“Jesus was most interested in helping people know that they were loved by God. Jesus wanted people to realise that there is no condemnation.”
”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
As I left the bar that day, I was reminded that we don’t just remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ every Easter. The reality of what He has done means that there is a restoration of worth and love to any heart that feels the cursedness of sin and the sense of separation it brings – and this is worth celebrating.
Jesus Christ is offering us eternal life and a transformed heart. His hand is open and outstretched to receive ours. If you’d like to respond to this invitation, just say this to Him:
“Dear Jesus, I’m sorry for the things I’ve done in my life. I’m sorry that I’ve sinned against you. Thank you for dying on the Cross, paying the price for my sins. Please come into my heart and into my life. I acknowledge that you are my Lord and Saviour. I pray all this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Want to discover more about Jesus and the hope that we have in Him? You’re invited to the Celebration of Hope from 17-19 May 2019 at the National Stadium. Be inspired by the stories and songs of hope at any of the 6 rallies. To chope your free tickets, visit: onelink.to/coh2019