When we open the book of Genesis we read that at the end of the six days of creation "God saw all that he had made and it was very good" (Gen. 1:31a). God celebrated the goodness of the world by resting and enjoying all the things that constituted the created order, the glorious universe.
Alas, the world in its goodness and perfection did not last long. The sin of Adam and Eve, as a result of their disobedience, brought death to them and the loss of Paradise as their dwelling place. However, sin did not affect only humanity, but the entire created order. Paul wrote: "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth … as we await eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:20-23) In another place, Paul says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23)
The surprise that I have experienced as a pastor from time to time is to find out when people talk as though the fall did not happen. I remember a conversation with a gentleman who was in his 80's. His daughter asked me to go and talk with him about his salvation. He told me that there have been many evil Romans and many evil Jews for whom Christ had to come, but as far as he was concerned, Jesus did not need to come into this world for him. He was a good man. He then proceeded to recite for me all the good things that he was doing and if God was to save anyone, he most likely will be at the top.
Dostoyevski, the Russian author, states that those who do not know where they are coming from rarely know where they are going. I think also that those who are not willing to accept what happened in the past, have a faulty view of the present. Without accepting that there has been a fall that has affected everything about us and the entire universe, we will have an aggrandized view of ourselves.
Thus in the Christian calendar from Ash Wednesday until the Easter morning we are focusing on our fallen nature and on what God in his loving-kindness had to do in order for us to become redeemed. Apostle Peter reminds us that "it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that we were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to us from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:18-19). One of the authors from our hymnbooks, Fanny J. Crosby, writes: "Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb."
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I invite you in this season to reflect on the fact that we have been created in the image and likeness of God, but that we have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Because of our sin and our delight in continuing to sin, God had to send His Son to redeem us. Like the publican in the biblical story we need to come to God and say: "Have mercy on me a sinner!" For many that is a difficult step, but one that we need to take before we experience the mercy and the forgiveness of the Lord, before we can sing the song of the redeemed people of God.