Articles, activities for boomers & seniors
Trustworthy sayings - there are many of them, we’ve learned them since childhood and they often act as guideposts dispensing helpful advice:
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”, “Great minds think alike....or...fools seldom differ!”
As a kid, my Dad used to tell me if someone was making fun of me I should say, “If you’re so smart, how come you’re not rich!” Thankfully, even as a child, I had at least a small modicum of sense not to repeat that in the presence of anyone bigger than myself! A favorite of mine however, was shared years ago by a friend who served over 20 years in Spain as a missionary. He said the folks there were fond of saying, “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!” Now that’s a keeper! Just one more. I was reading the childhood memories of one of the residents here at Fellowship, and he said when he would play hide-and-go-seek, after counting, whoever was “it” had to say, “Apple, peaches, pumpkin pie, whose not ready holler ‘I’.” Now that’s one to use with the grandkids!
There are a number of trustworthy or memorable sayings throughout the Bible. Most are found in Proverbs, but one in particular is by St. Paul who said: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.” The ability to say something important in a short, to the point, concise way, is a gift. And in this saying, the Apostle Paul succinctly sums up the whole message of the Bible.
He begins with a person – the Lord Jesus. He is the central character of the Bible. He is the “Christ”, the longed for anticipated Messiah, or Anointed one. This helps us understand the essence of Christianity is not so much an “ethic”, but a “relationship” - a personal relationship with the Living God through faith in His Son. He continues by addressing his “audience”, i.e., “sinners”. If Paul wrote he came into the world to save “Polish” people, I for one, would be glad because I am “Polish”. Others however, might think that’s nice, but he’s not addressing them. But Paul’s audience is “sinners” – and that includes you and me.
When we think of “sinners”, we usually think in categories of “omission” – good things I should have done but didn’t – or of “commission “ – bad things I shouldn’t have done, but did. But those are symptoms of a much deeper problem. Years ago I remember listening to a song by Michael Bolton who sang, “I don’t have the heart to love you, not the way you want me to.” That’s the heart of our problem. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Because we don’t, is the heart of our problem.
Paul helps us see the nature of the Gospel is “redemptive”, not so much “therapeutic”. We are not basically good people who make mistakes, but sinners who need to repent. We need saving from the deceptive, destructive and ultimately damning effects of our chosen sinfulness – but we can’t do it ourselves! Jesus isn’t so much a teacher, as if to think that our root problem was a lack of knowledge. He isn’t so much a life-coach, as if to think our real problem is a lack of effort.
Our problem is much deeper. We need a new heart; one that sees the depths of our sin and perceives our need for a Savior. He does this by dispensing grace which enables us to exercise faith in all that He is and all that He has accomplished, thus transforming our very hearts and lives!
Paul closes this faithful saying by pointing to his own sinfulness. He calls himself the “worst” of sinners. And like Paul, when the scales fall off and our heart is opened, we then go looking for a Savior. And...here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.”