God loves sinners.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8.
God does not value humans for the things they pride ourselves on, Smarts Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 1 Corinthians 1:20, looks Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30a, fame God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 1 Co. 1: 28a, power But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 1 Co. 1:27b. Without him and his grace, even good deeds are lost to futility And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, Ga. 2:16b.
We are valuable in ourselves, just for who we are, despite our sin. He loves us anyway, enough to offer us restoration to his image and likeness. He would prefer to save than punish, as today's Old Testament lesson makes clear. He is just, with each man having to face the penalty for his own sin, but, amazingly, He'd prefer to pay the penalty Himself. So He did.
But there is a condition. The wicked must turn from their sin. Because God hates sin -- and must do so to be a loving, righteous, holy God -- His love for us cannot take effect in us till we let go of the sin. Nevertheless, his grace reaches out to even very wicked people, and does change hearts and forgive great sins and sinners. And he rejoices in such transformation. Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7.
But do we? It isn't terribly hard for us to be enthusiastic about the infliction of punishment on the unrighteous (unless it happens to be us). Who doesn't like to see the bad guys get their due on cop shows? And that is reasonable, as far as it goes. However, we are meant to desire even more that sinners repent and are changed for the better, even if it means a merciful reduction of just punishment. Now, of course, since we know how TV plots work, we don't have much expectation a change of heart can be part of the story. In reality, fortunately, God's grace does break through hard hearts, and the lost are found by Him. In real life do we yearn for the conversion of the wicked? To be like God, we need to do so. Don't wait for the right feelings, though. Pray for sinners, even terrible ones, learn of their sufferings where relevant, for many perpetrators were once victims, and let emotional empathy catch up.
And it may well be the case that you already are on this path. Christians are moved by stories, fictional and non-fictional, of redemption and transformation. Let this joy in Grace's past victories lead us on to desire more of them. Let that beautiful petition from the Litany become our heartfelt prayer:
The image used was photographed in our chapel at St Marys Campus of the All Saints College in Victoria Street Maitland NSW Australia. Join us there for ACC Anglican Catholic Worship, Prayer and Holy Communion on Sunday Mornings at 11am (note that the last Sunday of the month will be held in Taree).