I pulled up to a stoplight near our home, the first car in a long line of traffic. It is a busy intersection, hemmed in by a 7-11, Starbucks, Wal-Greens and a supplement store (which in spite of seeing it every day for 6 years, I can’t remember the name.)
Christ did not die for me. Here’s why…
While Spirit 105.3 played over the radio, a homeless man crossed slowly in front of me.
His grayish white beard hung limply to his mid-chest. This thin frail arms showed weathered, leathered looking skin. On one foot was a gray sneaker. The other foot — a mismatched white one.
He was tall, thin and old looking.
Too old, I thought. I wondered what a clean shave, some nice clothes, and some meat on his bones would do for him. I wondered what happened in his life that his is now gimping along the white-striped road in front of me, with mismatched dirty clothes and averted eyes.
He made his trek to 7-11, then I lost sight of him.
I briefly thought of stopping to buy him some food, but then I remembered I had kids in the car. Sometimes I let fear that something might happen to my kids prevent me from doing what I would otherwise do.
As I watched him, I became painfully aware of my own comfort. My expensive mini-computer (which I call a phone) sitting by my lap. My minivan that comes with AC, heat, leather seats and butt-warmers. My cute, washed (but of course not ironed) clothes. The expensive products prettying my face.
And even more painfully, I became aware of something I had that he likely didn’t.
Hope. This man needed hope.
I was rich in hope. He was starved.
The radio blared on, and a phrase interrupted my stream-of-conscious thinking with a truth I have heard throughout my life:
Christ died for me.
Most days, I wouldn’t have payed much attention. I’ve heard it a million times. But not today.
Because watching a man with no hope opened my eyes to a horrible lie I have believed:
If Christ died for me, and I am saved, then that’s it. His mission is complete.
I am saved, I’ve been redeemed, and I’m darn comfortable, thank-you-very-much. We could just get this earth thing over with, head on to heaven and everything will be fine and dandy.
But did Christ really die for me?
So often, we Christians tell others that if they were the only person on this earth … Christ would have died for them.
I think that approach comes innocently enough. We want everyone to know the value they specifically hold in God’s eyes.
But the danger comes when we internalize this. And really, finding out that the creator of the universe cares so much about us as individuals really kinda goes to our heads. Or at least it goes to mine.
All of the sudden, my personal wellbeing has just skyrocketed in importance.
But can we also be honest about what is equally true? If we had never been born, Christ would still have would have died.
Because there are others.
Because scripture says, God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Get that? Whoever. (Not just me.) The whole WORLD. (Again, not me.)
Christ did not die for me. He died for the world.
He came for the homeless man I should have fed and should have told about Jesus. He came for the neighbors I choose not to meet. He came for the families in Nepal, who I haven’t been praying for.
He came for the hurting and the broken and the proud and the wealthy and the sick and the wise and the foreigners and the intellectuals and the kids and the old people and the gays and the straights.
His heartbeat is not for Rachel. His heartbeat is for the world.
And it’s about darn time my heartbeat starts echoing his.