November 26, 2008

"But God" 
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
 Romans 5:8

Tomorrow we’ll pack up the car and go speeding toward a traditional Thanksgiving meal with all of my extended relatives. Almost thirty people under one roof leads to lots of laughter, chaos, football, tree climbing, and certainly lots of food. It’s a pretty common Thanksgiving scene, one that will be celebrated by millions of others this weekend. It’s a beautiful sight, isn’t it?

This year, as I step back to reflect on the holiday, I’m reminded of two words that make all this possible. These two words allow me to keep breathing every moment, and uphold the joyful mayhem of my loving family. It’s quite a simple phrase, really, but the words constantly remind me that everything I see is a gift.

C. J. Mahaney has often said the phrase “but God” encompasses everything we understand about the Gospel. Without those two words, my life would still be stuck in sin, and the joy of thanksgiving couldn’t extend beyond my immediate circumstances.

“But God.” As Ephesians 2:3 puts it, without those two words I would spend my whole life chasing the “sinful desires” that have no higher joy than their temporary gratification. Worst of all, real relationship with God would be out my league, because of the old human nature. Ephesians 2 says quite simply (and terribly) that I would still be an “object of wrath” for a holy God whom I continually flout.

“But God.” I deserve the worst, but I have been given the best because of those two words. To quote Mahaney again, each day is so much better than I deserve. It’s so simple, but so compelling. Ephesians 2:4-5 continues, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

“But God.” I was a sinner. God can’t tolerate sin. I can’t stop being a sinner. “But God’s” grace covered my sin and gave me Christ’s perfect righteousness – what an incredible substitution! Nothing could possibly be more incredible than those two words, knowing that I was helpless… “but God.”

Intersection of Faith & Life: Tomorrow, as I join for a Thanksgiving prayer with all my relatives, and you with yours, I pray that you will experience the incredible mystery – and rejoicing – those words inspire. Whatever our circumstances, God’s children all know what life could be except for those two words. May your reflections fill your heart with thankfulness. Happy Thanksgiving!

Further Reading

Worldliness by C. J. Mahaney
Celebrate ‘Beyond Me’ Living During the Holidays by Kathi Macias
Psalms 49:15
Psalms 73:26
Acts 2:24
1 Corinthians 1:27