October 20, 2017

The Great Exchange: From Death to Life

In and of ourselves, we are nothing. In fact, we are worse than nothing… we are like dirty pigs wallowing in our own filth, thinking we’re the richest most enviable creatures on earth. But as any one who’s seen at a pigsty can tell you, pigs are clearly neither rich nor enviable.

We’re not much better. We are like dumb animals, too enamored with our best efforts to notice how poor we really are. In fact, Isaiah says all our best works are no better than filthy rags — like the kind you would use to wipe up pig slop.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh…

Humans are selfish, depraved creatures full of death and sin. We have no hope for redemption in and of ourselves. We are doomed to destruction, to everlasting death, to an eternity devoid of life and happiness.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 

But God…

God, who is rich in mercy…

God, who is rich in mercy, loved us with infinite love despite our enemy state. He had compassion on His rebellious creation and forged a way for reconciliation.

The Great Exchange: From Death to Life

The holy triune God splintered the eternally unbroken communion of Father and Son, who had only ever known perfect unity, to seek fellowship with sinful, stubborn humanity.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We exchanged places, and roles, and consequences. He gave us His righteousness, and took our sinfulness. He gave us life — we gave Him death. He gave us freedom and light — we condemned Him to the darkness of hell. He offered the hope of eternal life to those headed straight toward eternal damnation.

He offered the riches of eternity to those who were wallowing in pig slop!

In me,
imperfection
bares its ugly claws,
snarls with rancid breath-
deformity itself, absence of good-

but in Him I have new life, new clothes:
gone are my deformities, washed away,
freed to find goodness, considered just,
not of my own self but in His perfection-

and so His purity covers my impurity,
beauty eclipses my damaged soul,
virtue annuls my guiltiness-
pardoned, forgiven,
in Him alone.**

For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

In Christ, we can be cleansed from all our sinfulness and given the power to walk in righteousness. In Him, we can be reconciled to our Creator and have sweet fellowship with the God of the universe. In Him, we can find hope for an eternity of true joy and ultimate peace, as our bodies and souls are fully and finally redeemed and in the presence of the Lord continually.

This is the story of Easter. This is the point of Christianity.

This is the Great Exchange, from everlasting death to life eternal!

 

Image credit: Logos library
** Forgiven by Elizabeth A. Johnson ©2011

Comments

  1. I love this Elizabeth and your poem is beautiful 🙂 I’m grateful this morning for Christ’s sacrifice that led to our adoption as sons and daughters of God. Blessings to you!

  2. Amen…beauty eclipses my damaged soul.

  3. God doesn’t create crap. Even pigs have their purpose & beauty because He created them. Our sin must be redeemed! But we are still His from day one no matter how awful our actions seem to be. We think too much about ourselves. We’re so awesome or so terrible. We’re sinners, we’re saved because of Jesus’, and we are created in His image…not in our own esteem but His.
    Genesis 1:27

    Thank you for letting me comment. God bless!
    F

    • True, God saw all that He created and called it good. However, as soon as Adam and Eve sinned, all that perfection was marred horribly. God Himself says that all our “righteous deeds” are like a polluted garment (Isaiah 64:6), and calls us “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). And Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, calls his flesh a “body of death” (Romans 7:24).

      Yes, we have been created in the Holy Father’s image. Yes, we who have been redeemed now bear Christ’s nature and have His Spirit dwelling within us. But we truly are terribly, “desperately wicked” outside of His presence, and even with His Spirit, we can say with Paul: “nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Romans 7:18).