The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about being reconciled to God by grace through faith.
One of the most difficult concepts for many people to grasp is the Gospel claim that without Jesus Christ, we are alienated from God. Some of us feel the alienation. We have lived a life that is far from God, and we know it. We know we are broken and have fallen short of the glory of the God who created us.
Others of us, insulated by the comfort of a middle class (or better) life and the decency of our lifestyle simply do not see ourselves as sinners. "I'm a good person" is the goal and self-evaluation of our lives. Surely we are not sinners like the bad people who murder or rape or lie, cheat and steal.
Scripture makes some sobering claims about this.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 NIV)
"For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23a NIV)
"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2 NIV)
Sin is universal. Sin is deadly. Sin separates us from God. We need to be reconciled to God, and we cannot make ourselves perfect by our actions in order to claim reconciliation through our good works. If God did not send us a Reconciler, we would be hopelessly, helplessly lost - scrounging out a living and trying to find love and happiness in 80 or so years of life before an eternity apart from Him.
But God did send us a Reconciler. His name is Jesus!
"For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him [Jesus], and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1:19-20 NIV)
Jesus of Nazareth was not just a Jewish rabbi who lived in Galilee a little over 2,000 years ago. He was God-in-the-flesh. He was the beloved Son of God who took on a human body in order to show us the heart of God in His teaching and healing ministry, and to die as our Substitute on a Roman cross. He paid the price we could not pay.
All God's fullness dwelt in Jesus, His Son. The living God walked among us for 33 years and then died to save us. The Gospel is actually pretty mind-boggling!
Even the claims above about our sin were written by the Apostle Paul in the context of this great reconciliation:
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24 NIV)
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 NIV)
We are justified freely by the grace of God through Jesus Christ! The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus! Through Jesus, God reconciles us to Himself.
Many US Christians are amazed at the joy they find in the lives of people living in abject poverty when they visit on a mission trip. People who have nothing compared to the abundance of America have everything in their souls in Jesus Christ. No matter how much or how little material things we have, we are truly rich when we know we are forgiven and loved, and when we know eternal life is our inheritance.
That sense of unfulfillment that nags at our soul when we are comfortable with all the world has to offer and yet we are not really happy - that's alienation from God. In a real, solid, living relationship with the God who made us, we find fulfillment and joy. Even if life is hard. We have been reconciled. We have received the grace and love and forgiveness of God in Christ. And it is fulfilling and joyful beyond anything the world can offer.
If life is hard and you feel a million miles away from God, I hope you will take heart. You have a Reconciler in Jesus. He gave His life to reconcile you to God. He waits for you to turn to Him in trust. He will bring you home to the Father who loves you. And He will walk with you in the adventure of a life lived for God and not for less! Reach out to Jesus. Trust Him with your life. I promise, you will never regret it.