The LORD God said to the serpent ... I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:14a, 15). The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2).
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10).
...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:23-25).
“I don’t need any help! I’m fine!”
That was how one my first attempts at sharing the gospel ended. I was a teenager, speaking to someone in my family. After telling them the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection to save them from their sins, this was their response.
I don’t hold it against him, though. This was my response too, at first. In fact, this is the response of the whole of humanity, until grace changes our hearts to receive the good news of God’s rescue, by faith. Ever since the beginning, God has been on a rescue mission of the people he loves. That mission, that story, is the one we call the gospel.
Remember that in the beginning, God made everything very, very good. God’s creation was pristine, perfect, and pregnant with potential. But our first parents looked upon what God made and want it more than him. They wanted God’s stuff—to have it, to rule it, to be in charge. They rebelled. They did what they wanted, and in so doing they irreparably terminated their relationship with God. The became lost in a relativistic sea of pain, depravity, and self-will. Like a swimmer alone in the pacific, they—and we—had no hope of rescue.
But God looked upon his people, at the crime scene of their brokenness, with compassion. Instead of getting angry, he showed grace. He looked at our enemy, the liar and tempter of our souls, and made a promise. The promise was for a rescuer—one that would destroy sin and save humanity. God promised to rescue.
The millennia that followed this promise saw God rescue his people over and over again from the consequences of sin. But, never from sin itself. Not then, anyway. The psalmists would sing about God’s power to save. And yet, something was missing. God’s people seemed always to return to sin. Like a sailor who always wrecks the ship, humanity continued to wreck the world, their lives, and each other. What could God do to destroy sin?
Into a confused humanity came Jesus Christ. Living a perfect life, he showed us what God is like, in the flesh. He put a face on the love of God. He put hands to the work of God. And those same hands which healed while he was alive, would heal in his death. Jesus came to seek us—the lost ones. For all those who would be willing to say, “I’m lost, and I need to be rescued,” the coming of Jesus is unspeakably good news. But for those of us who insist on floating in the sea of our sin, refusing the rescue God has provided, Jesus is only offensive. We simply look at him and shout, “I don’t need any help! I’m fine!”
You and I and everyone else have sinned. We’ve fallen short of God’s ideal, preferring ourselves to God and everyone else. That’s why we can’t have much to do with our rescue. The shipwrecked sailor doesn’t make or bring the rescue. He just receives it. So, before you pursue all your earthly treasures which remind you how independent and strong you are, remember that God is your rescuer. The only way to lay hold of the rescue of God is to abandon your self-sufficiency. Once you’re empty of your best efforts, God will fill you up. For, he loves to fill empty, broken, needy people.