If Jesus' name in Hebrew, Yeshua, means "salvation," then one might ask, "Saving from what?" Of course, we would respond, "From sin and death!"
Sin and death: These are the two greatest obstacles from fully experiencing God in this life. Jesus came to give us victory and life.
We have passed Theology 101. Or have we?
Yes, but we have missed a key point that I had driven home to me this week. Let me share what happened.
My husband is an eminent scholar in the field of gun rights. He was asked to speak to the Texas Bar Association in Austin on Wednesday. The presenter before him spoke about two cases he was an expert witness for. The stories broke my heart.
Both involved domestic violence. Two women had hooked up with two men who were involved in the biker subculture. The first woman was a Christian. She met him and he was willing to go to church with her. Over time, his drug abuse and ill treatment of her led to finally kick him out. Her fatal "mistake" was to say disparaging things about his biker patches and his biker club. After screaming, "I am going to kill you!" he jumped on top of her with a knife. She was able to get the knife and she stabbed him to get him off of her. He went to the hospital with fourteen stab wounds and she was convicted of 2nd degree murder. Her case was overturned, however, and the judge agreed that she had indeed acted in self-defense.
The second woman, after twelve years of being involved with her biker partner, and having found him in their home having intercourse with another woman, said disparaging things about his club and his patches. He later menaced her with a knife and having threatened to kill her and her family, she drew a gun and shot him.
The presenter was discussing self-defense, juries, and women whose self-esteem is so low that they cannot see themselves with any other guy, thereby putting themselves at risk. It was a sobering presentation, complete with ER and autopsy photos.
My point? We Christians tend to focus on the sins that people commit. We look at the adultery, the homosexuality, the greed, the pride, the abuse, the whatever, and say, "You should not do that."
We are horrified at what people do. The presenter did not mince words about what losers these two men were; he repeatedly used the phrase, "***holes" in describing them. Looking at their tats, their pictures and their attitudes, it was a label that easily fit. In fact, the audience laughed their agreement every time he used that word.
I was horrified at what he presented. I felt anger that these men had pushed these women to such a breaking point that one was stabbed and the other shot. I felt awful that these women stayed with these men and now themselves were being viewed as criminals.
I was focused on what everyone had done.
Let me bring up a quick analogy. A person walks into a room filled with numerous bottles of poison. The person is trying to select which one to drink. We run in and focus on each bottle, and list all of the consequences of drinking such and such poison. While we are talking, the person turns around and gulps down a bottle of cyanide. We quickly say, "How could you do that?" We then proceed to tell the person the horrible things cyanide does to the body. Only after much detailing of poison and its effects do we yell, "It'll kill you!"
We focus on what the person did and what will or could happen. Then, almost as an afterthought, do we say, "It will kill you."
Now, let's go back to our presenter. We listened to the horrible aspects of these people's lives and what they had done. It was almost an afterthought that all of these behaviors would result in death.
Then it hit me: Satan does not care what you DO. He could care less what bottle of poison you drink. His endgame is your death: six feet under and cold as dirt. Did any of those four people wake up that morning and say, "What we are doing will lead to our death. We need to stop," No. The one young man laying on the coroner's table never thought he'd end his day like that.
My point is this. We need to stop focusing on what people DO and focus on what will happen in the future. Your drug habit will lead to death. Your adultery will lead to death. Your greed will lead to death. Your pride will lead to death.
We are so focused on the horror of the sin, we lose sight of the most horrible outcome of all: the death of the sinner.
Oh, come on, you say, how could my adultery lead to death? Adultery is the poison in the bottle. Once you introduce it into your life, Satan now uses it to separate you further and further from God and as the sin courses through your spiritual bloodstream, the more vulnerable you are to his attacks. He isn't concerned what poison you drank; he just wants you to drink it and that starts the process. He wants you dead. The means are not his thing; the end is.
At the end, all four lives were destroyed. The two women served time. One man was dead and the other severely injured. Even though one of the women was exonerated, her life is forever changed. She is a Christian and now has left death to enter life. I pray for the other woman and the man who survived. Satan would like the job to be completed and until we are in Jesus, Satan will not let up until we are dead.
That is why Jesus so focused on bringing life. He is the Antidote to the poison of sin and its result, death. Jesus says that Satan the thief is out to "steal kill, and destroy."
As followers of His, let's focus on the endgame: Satan's is your death, by whatever means necessary.
Jesus' is your life, and He provided the means: His death on the cross.
So, in loving the sinner and hating the sin, let's expand that to loving the sinner and hating the death that awaits them, if they don't find Jesus.
Let's be diligent to show the trajectory of the sin, and not let the sin itself steal our focus on sharing the beauty of Jesus. He is Salvation, and He is what we need to counter the wiles of Satan.