by Andrew Cromwell
Have you noticed that everyone “knows better” until they’ve actually been in the situation? Whether it is the decisions facing the government, the choices of the local school board, or the brother-in-law’s latest relationship, people somehow find it incredibly easy to stand back and declare the solution to the problem.
I feel the same way. If people would only listen to me, this world would be a better place. People wouldn’t get themselves into the ridiculous situations they get themselves into. Our country wouldn’t be in debt up to its eyeballs and that local building project that the city officials can’t seem to get figured out would already be done, a long time ago. Because I “know better”.
The funny thing is sometimes, and I emphasize sometimes, we are even right. Sometimes we do “know better.” But just “knowing better” doesn’t really do much. Sure it makes you feel like you are somehow better than those people, but that’s nothing more than empty pride. Being right by itself doesn’t help or change anything.
Believe it or not, just being right, can make things worse. The Apostle Paul talks about this reality in his letter to the Romans. He describes it in legal terms. The more laws you have on the books, the easier it is to break them. Before you know it everyone’s a criminal! And those who look around at what other people are doing and “know better” and quote the law, do nothing more than make other people even more guilty. They judge and condemn.
I believe that is why God sent His son Jesus into the world. A perfect God always “knows better.” Imagine Him looking down at all of us bumping around here on earth, making a mess of everything. He could have just shook His head and pulled out His stick and judged us all as failures. Just like most of us do to other people.
But that’s not what He did.
Father God wasn’t content simply to dispense judgment and condemnation from afar. He was convinced that there was a better way. A way that required more of Him, certainly. It required Him to get down into the muck with us so that He could lead us out of it. So He sent His Son Jesus to do just that.
That’s the difference between condemnation and incarnation. Condemnation declares the truth and hammers the gavel and says “Guilty.” Incarnation moves into the world of the person who is broken, identifies with them and with the reality of their situation, and says “Let’s fix this.” John says it this way, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.”
What kind of person are you? Are you one who stands backs and shoots judgment like a gun? Or are you willing to take a step closer and risks getting your hands dirty so that you actually help?