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« The Time of Christmas | Main | Great Expectations »

Make it Personal

“Accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.” We’ve heard it all our lives.  It rolls glibly off the tongue of the nominal Christian.  Of course, there is more to the new birth than a verbal assent to accept Christ.  Jesus told Nicodemus to be born of the water and the Spirit.  Peter preached the first sermon at the inauguration of the church in which he called for repentance, baptism, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 2:38).  But, let’s go back to the personal part.  This is the pill that gets stuck in the throat.  We can talk all day about the idea of sin, the love of God for the sinner, the pain of Calvary and the efficacy of the blood of Jesus.  We can argue over soteriology, redemption, atonement, propitiation and the like, ad nauseam, yet, never feel the impact of opining on these very subjects.  But, anything that is not personal is not real.  

Take the Kate Steinle case.   Juan Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant who’d been deported five times, was accused of shooting Steinle, a 32-year-old woman as she walked on a San Francisco pier. The shooting set off a heated, national debate over sanctuary cities, immigration policies, legislative proposals, illegal alien statistics, gun control laws, and endless rancorous arguments over ideas and concepts.  On and on it went.  Eventually, the jury found Lopez-Sanchez not guilty.  But the verdict and all the back-and-forth conversation did nothing to assuage the pain of Kate’s family.  For them, it was personal. It was not a matter of statistics, social policy or immigration laws.  Disengaged people can banter these topics about as much as they want, but at the end of the day, they can go home and forget about it.  It’s just talk.  There is no impact on their personal lives.  Things like this don’t become real until your personal life is blown to smithereens by a senseless act that causes everybody else to yawn and order their mocha latte with triple sugar.  They dismiss the matter as a routine entry in the daily log. 

So it is with sin and salvation.  As long as sin is generic, as long as evil is theoretical, as long as guilt is hypothetical, then it’s not real.  If Jesus is not personal, however, He is just a story.  If sin and salvation don’t have real-time meaning, they will never be fully appreciated.  If we can relegate salvation to a long-ago, far-away tragedy, it will never be real.  If we can confine the cross to the stale words of a memorized prayer, or the rhyming lyrics of a song, or the text of a clever sermon, or the seed thought of an interesting article, then it will never be real. 

Make the cross personal to you.  Understand that it was your sin that hammered the spikes into the hands and feet of Jesus.  Recognize that your transgressions drove the spear into His side.  Fully admit that it was your lying, cheating, stealing, fornication, abusive actions, pride, rebellion, greed, violence, slander, and so much more that crushed the life out of the Savior.  That’s when it becomes personal.  When it becomes personal, you will experience an epiphany, a revelatory moment, a soul awakening that will propel you into a dimension you never thought existed.  Isn’t it strange?  We want healing to be personal.  We want deliverance, our daily interaction with Jesus, what’s going on in our marriage, our children, our job, our finances, our church, our ministry, our friendships, our situations in life to be personal.  

If He is your Savior, make Him personal.  It was your sin, on the cross.  Own it.  Claim it.  Confess it.  Spell it out.  See His blood covering your sin.  Hear your Savior speak your name.  See His eyes fully engage your gaze.  He’s more than a generic Savior.  He’s more than a theologian’s lesson on soteriology.  He’s your Savior.  “Alas, and did my Savior bleed?  And did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I? Was it for sins that I had done, He groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity! grace unknown! And love beyond degree!

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