As I look at that table, my heart is nearly crushed by the grace of God. If I look at it for more than 20 seconds my eyes begin to water. What I experienced in the middle seat on the left hand side 1 week and 1 day ago branded my heart like a hot iron cast. It will always remain with me. Just the same, you would have no idea what the sting felt like…but I will always have a story to tell.
My cousin. One of my best friends. One of my groomsmen. Adam (by his own admission at this table) Is a drug addict. Is a manipulator. Is a liar.
And Jesus died the same death for him that he did for you. And for me. God didn’t have to take a few extra whips to the back or punches to the face for Adam.
Romans 5:6-8(TNIV) puts it like this:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this way: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Let’s put it another way: “While Adam was still a drug addict, Christ died for Adam.”
Or: “While (your name) was still a (manipulator, gossiper, control freak, self centered, insecure, divorcee, gambling addict, power seeking, cynical doubter, wind chaser, pornographer, money hungry, unfriendly, truth hider, step on anyone, insulter, think you’re better than everyone, lover of politics more than Jesus, constant comparer, excuse generator, procrastinator, self loving, self hating, lazy, pretentious, obnoxious, envier, family member hater, arrogant, non compassionate, emotionally unstable, over boastful, idea stealer…), Christ died for you.
If you don’t fall into one of those categories or couldn’t even come up with one of your own and the tendency is to be defensive towards that type of analogy, then the gospel is not for you.
Here is what that table reminded me of last week.
I. Am. Bro-ken.
With a few different decisions here and there over the last 8 years, I could have been sitting in Adam’s chair at the table instead. Being interviewed to enter a 10 month re-generation program for addicts.
I don’t need the Bible to tell me that I am broken. All I have to do is think about my own thoughts. Things I have thought towards the people that I love and love me the most. Occasionally a thought pops up, or an over the line joke about someone, or straight out awful and unfair comment about someone I love comes out. And I think, “I can’t believe I thought/said that. Where did that come from?”
It came from my broken heart. And that broken heart is in desperate need of the gospel not simply for eternal life, but for a better way of life. Jesus was the only religious leader who ever addressed these issues and explained that God was not a far off God who didn’t really care, but while I was in the midst of sinning…loved me.
At the table above last Monday my heart raced. A man named Steve was conducting the interview. Steve had been through the program himself and was now one of the directors of No Longer Bound in Cumming, GA. He asked Brittany and I to not say anything during the interview.
About 2 minutes into the interview after a couple answers from Adam, Steve (former marine) said, “Let’s cut the crap.”
Steve spoke to Adam just like I would expect someone from the military to, except he didn’t use any foul language. He told Adam that Adam was a great manipulator, but it wasn’t going to work around this place.
I heard Adam, a guy I have know since he was a baby, say this:
“I am not proud of the person that I have become. I have nothing to show for my life.”
That was one of the sadder moments of my life. He was finally starting to be honest and open up in this interview and said that he wasn’t just upset about the addiction, but his entire person. Someone whom I love dearly. Someone who’s family loves him dearly. Said that.
Adam understood that this was more than an addiction problem. This was a heart problem. This addiction was not isolated to himself. His addiction was a family problem.
The interview was incredibly intense. At the same time it was incredibly encouraging.
Every moment at the table that my mind drifted towards, “I can’t believe you Adam…” and my heart sprinted towards self-righteousness…
Jesus whispered, “I died the same death for him…”
And the picture of that table is a reminder of the extreme love that God offered. That while I was in the midst of my own secret sins, God showed me that he loved me and died for those sins, the same death he died for Adam’s.
And if God was powerful and brave enough to do that, then it leads me to believe that He values Adam. That Adam is worth fighting for. That Adam is worth all of the sacrifices and tough love that his family has shown him over the years. If God died for Adam, then God must believe in Adam. More than I do. More than his immediate family does.
And that is powerful.
I believe in Adam.
But I believe in Jesus more. And place my trust in Him that He actually can redeem Adam’s life and time.