This is actually an excerpt from the book I am writing, so it’s a bit ripped out of it’s context, but I thought it would be a good scriptural follow up to the “What I Don’t Deserve” article in my new series, The Lies I’ve Been S/Told. Enjoy!
See, what some of my brethren have mixed up is what we deserve versus what we have earned.
That’s an important distinction to make, because if your value is based on what you have earned, then yes, you “deserve” punishment for your sin.
But if your value comes from somewhere else, then punishments are what we have earned, not what we deserve.
It’s a core value question instead of a superficial concern of the moment.
It asks, “What do human beings deserve, as created?” not what they have now earned through their own actions.
Certainly we have earned punishment for our sins. We can all think of a bad choice that we’ve made that has caused consequences in our lives. And throughout scripture we see that when holy comes into contact with unholy, something has to die. And so we have earned our death, punishment and the suffering attached to it.
But human beings don’t deserve it.
If human beings deserved hell then God could have just saved time and created them in hell, “Mwa-ha-ha-ha!”
But that’s not the story of this God.
This God carefully crafted a wonderful, thriving environment for his creatures to live in and then set them as co-stewards over the very creation he created. He released them into his world with the ability to think, create and cultivate his beautiful creation. And he created them in an image (reflection, likeness) of himself.
It was a world of vibrant, shimmering potential; creation and creatures loved by God.
So when we think about what human beings deserve, it’s very different from where they have ended up.
Zephaniah describes God as a mighty warrior who defends his people and takes great delight in them—even rejoicing over them with singing.
Think about that.
God rejoices over his people with singing.
The Psalmist upon reflecting on the awesome magnificence of God asks, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”
Then he answers his own question. Why would an all powerful God who could do anything he wanted to care for these puny little frail creatures called mankind?
Because he created them.
But not just because he created them, but because he made them as wondrous, enchanting creatures, “You have made thema little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”
I like this paraphrase:
“Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods,
bright with Eden’s dawn light.
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,
repeated to us your Genesis-charge,
Made us lords of sheep and cattle,
even animals out in the wild,
Birds flying and fish swimming,
whales singing in the ocean deeps.
God, brilliant Lord,
your name echoes around the world.”
This is not a low view of humanity. This is the insistence that you are a not worthless creature that deserves to suffer in despair and pain, no; it’s the insistence that human life is uniquely precious and beautiful.
It’s a very high view of humanity
And if that view of humanity is true, then it’s no wonder that God would come down to his own creation and die for them.
And Jesus’ death isn’t saving humanity from what they deserve; it’s saving us from ourselves.
He’s not providing a better future—he’s offering us the correct future.
It’s a future full of richness in life, joy and communion with the Father of all creation. And so throughout the bible is the insistence that you are worth so much more than this. You were created with the divine spark, and in this is the affirmation and celebration and all of creation. When God steps down into his creation as Jesus he came in the sarx, the flesh. He came in the flesh to save the flesh and spirit. It’s the restoration of true humanity. The restoration of creatures from their fallenness to their intended glory and honor as God’s creation—as they deserve.