“The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.” Romans 8:29b-30 (MSG)
When was humanity restored?
The day Jesus died on a cross so that humanity had the choice to fully experience our Heavenly Father. Once we accept His love, we are restored. Jesus’ resurrection proves that we are forgiven and that we have a glorious inheritance. “What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven-and the future starts now!” 1 Peter 1:3-4 (MSG) His death and resurrection offered humanity the choice of being restored or not.
How do we know if we are restored?
It’s quite simple: “The person who trusts me (Jesus) will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.” John 14:12-14 (MSG) In four words: Do as Jesus does!
One day an expert of the law had but one question to ask to Jesus: “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” Luke 10:25b (MSG) Jesus replied in a way he could understand, for after all, the law was everything to this expert: “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?” Luke 10:26b (MSG) Without thinking the expert of the law answered: “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence-and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” Luke 10:27b (MSG) Jesus’ response? “Good answer!…Do it and you’ll live.” Luke 10:28 (MSG) Deep down in all of us, we do realize that love is the answer. The problem is that many among us lose their way in their search for love. After all, “We know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God-what a gift!-and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life.” 1 John 5:20 (MSG) The only way for humanity to ever be restored is through Christ who fills us with His love. It’s all about love!
Now some believe in predestination, the belief that God chooses who He wants to save. Where would genuine love be if that were the case? Some are doomed from the onset, but others are favorites? That’s a lie! “He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned.” 1 Timothy 2:4 (MSG) Our Heavenly Father becomes our reality once we experience Him fully. He will guide us until the end, and when our ends approaches, eternity awaits us. After all, we are bathed by divine love!
Even amidst the worst concentration camp, Auschwitz, individuals could show that they are restored.
Raymond Kolbe, a Franciscan priest, ended up in Auschwitz. He had committed what was considered to be a terrible crime: He had sheltered 3,000 Polish refugees as well as 2,000 Jews.
Once in Auschwitz, however, He kept his optimism. He was even able to write to his mom: “Dear Mama, At the end of the month of May I was transferred to the camp of Auschwitz. Everything is well in my regard. Be tranquil about me and about my health, because the good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love . . .”
He didn’t want his mother to worry about him. He truly believed that all was well. I can imagine his mother reading his letter over and over, day in and day out, tears flowing freely for her child.
The prisoners in Auschwitz were starving. Their rations were not enough to survive, and the food was far from nutritious. In fact, much of it was rotten. Father Kolbe, however, would share his meager rations with others who needed it more than himself. When he was beaten by the Nazis, he prayed for them.
Even though he must have been exhausted at night, he went from bunk to bunk, asking if he could do anything to help. He often pleaded with them to forgive their tormentors and overcome evil with good.
The prisoners loved him so much that often they crawled across the floor at night to be close to Father Kolbe, to confess their sins and get encouragement. He was always there for anyone who needed his help. A Protestant doctor noticed one day that Father Kolbe waited until all the patients were treated before he asked for help. Others were always first for him.
Father Kokbe eventually died in Auschwitz, when he pleaded with the Nazis to take the place of a young man. Someone had escaped from Auschwitz and 10 prisoners had been rounded up to die of starvation. Father Kolbe took the place of one of those prisoners.
Father Kolbe was truly restored. He knew what love looked like. He tried to live like Jesus did, and he was rewarded when He arrived at the Pearly Gates above.
Where do we stand with genuine love? Do we put others before ourselves? Are we eager to forgive at all times? Do we follow in the footsteps of our Savior day in and day out? Do we keep on encouraging others?
(To access the entire “Radical Grace From the Book of Romans” devotional series, please click here.)