“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:20, 21).

For most of this week, we will see and hear of deeds of incredible kindness since (1) the hurricane Gustav did not make a direct hit on New Orleans, and (2) Gustav came ashore with much less destructive force than anticipated. (Do not tell those who suffered significant loss that Gustav was weak!) Had there been an enormous, widespread tragedy, we would see the tragedy. Instead, we will hear repeatedly about unusual, unexpected things done by people for unknown people. We rightly will rejoice in the human spirit that is moved to compassion in moments of great danger.

Ironically, the more people experience compassion, the more compassion is expected. With even more events calling for compassion, struggling people develop expectations. They begin to complain because the compassion shown is not compassionate enough. With additional events calling for compassion, struggling peoples’ complaints grow louder because compassion did not “prevent” the tragedy. Unreasonable expectations make kindness appear to be unkind.

The greatest kindness ever given to people was stated by Paul in the verses above. The enormity of that kindness is not understood until a human understands two things. A human (1) must grasp the enormity of his (or her) need and (2) must grasp that sin is the exact opposite of God. Sin embodies all the cruelty and injustice of hate. God embodies all the beauty and unselfish thoughtfulness of love. God allowed His son to become like His greatest enemy so that we humans might become God’s righteousness.

Any person can be God’s righteousness because of what Jesus did for us in his death. In Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:24 (speaking of Jesus): “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

We humans are not righteous before God because we are good. We are righteous before God because we are forgiven. It is not (and never will be) what we have done for God, but what God did (and does) for us in Jesus Christ. Does that eliminate the need for obedience? No! It gives us more reason for being obedient to show appreciation for what God did for us in Jesus’ death!

The persons who do not understand complain because God does not meet their physical expectations, or they resent God for not preventing the tragedy we caused. The persons who understand are awed that God could make His enemies righteous.

Are you a Christian? Why? See God’s kindness for what it truly is! Appreciate what you see, and rejoice in divine compassion!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 4 September 2008

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