This devotional was originally published on July 8, 2016.
My original plan to was to write a devotional thought based on the conclusion of the parable of the prodigal son. The past few weeks we have taught on the shameful and mind-boggling characters Jesus created to help each of us see our lostness and the overwhelming grace of God. My original plan was altered because of the events that took place last night in Dallas.
Honestly, I am still trying to wrap my mind around the tragic nature of all that happened just a mile or so from where my wife and I enjoyed dinner just an hour before. There are things I just don’t understand and perhaps never will. I don’t fully understand the powerful fruit that is birthed out of hate, bitterness, racism, bigotry, pride and refusal to forgive. I don’t understand it, but I am mortified by its power. What we witnessed last night is powerful yet broken fruit of our depravity.
As I have prayed for all involved, including those who perpetrated these terrible crimes, my mind kept wandering to what we as Americans can do to elevate the right conversations, legislate new laws, elect new leaders, double down on punishments — I thought of a dozen or more things that we as Americans could do to help bring order and justice. In one way, I was satisfied with the plans I had developed, but I still found myself very unsettled because something was missing. The thing that was missing was the grace of God.
At the core, everything Dallas and, frankly, our entire country is currently suffering through can be traced back to the Garden of Eden. Hate is fruit of the fall. Bitterness is fruit of the fall. Bigotry is fruit of the fall. Pride is fruit of the fall. Refusal to forgive is fruit of the fall. Elevating conversations will not ultimately fix the problem. New laws won’t ultimately fix the problem. Electing new leaders won’t ultimately fix the problem. Doubling down on punishments won’t ultimately fix the problem. Jesus has been, currently is and will always be our only hope.
All of us, regardless of our past, need Jesus.
All of us, regardless of our race, need Jesus.
All of us, regardless of the amount of money we have or want, need Jesus.
All of us, regardless of our accomplishments, need Jesus.
All of us, regardless of our political leanings, need Jesus.
All of us need Jesus.
I suppose this devotional thought isn’t that far away from the story of the prodigal son after all. One was lost in his “goodness” while one was lost in his “badness.” The thing they had in common was a desperate need for a loving father: Jesus.
The good news is Jesus is ready to replace our hate with love, our bitterness with forgiveness, our racism with impartiality, and our bigotry with humility. Are you ready to come home and let him make you new?
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 6:20-23