The other day I was playing an on-line ‘checkers’ game. There [on-line] we get a live opponent from somewhere in the world. I would not know who that person is or which part of the world he or she is from. The computer selects a player randomly. As I started playing against this particular opponent, he [she] made a mistake and I capitalized on it and made a triple jump. Such a play at the initial stage would put one player in command because he would at least get ahead by two pieces. The outcome is almost predictable from then on, because it would be hard to come back from such disadvantageous position.
As soon as the opponent realized the mistake, he offered a ‘draw’ to me; which usually is reserved for towards the end of the game when the pieces are equal and both players realize that neither one has a clear advantage over the other. Once accepting the offer that game is considered a ‘draw.’ In this case, I had a clear advantage and it is just a matter of some more moves and all pieces of my opponent will be captured, leading me to a clear victory. As an initial reflective move of my brain, I rejected the draw offer. I was thinking; yeah, right; he has no escape and how dare is he offering a draw?
We kept on playing and I kept on capturing his pieces and getting further ahead. By now I expanded to a four piece advantage. I realized that this opponent is at my mercy; he has no escape. A thought flashed through my mind connecting this situation to my situation before receiving God’s mercy. I was given total and unconditional pardon for my sins by God. I received mercy from God when I was just like my opponent, who has no way of escape.
I felt I should initiate the draw offer to my opponent and let him also receive ‘mercy;’ in this case just a silly game; nonetheless a reflection of God’s mercy that I had received. I sent him a draw offer. To my surprise, he rejected that offer. I felt that either he is upset that I did not accept it when he initiated the draw offer or he is now feeling that he does not want some stranger’s mercy. I made another move and his situation is getting dangerously close to a total collapse. I sent out one more offer. He rejected it. I made one more move and now there is only one more possible move for my opponent before he gets defeated. As a final attempt I sent out another ‘draw’ offer. He made his final move after rejecting my draw offer. He got defeated very convincingly.
This incident gave me a clearer picture of human reaction to God’ mercy! It could be the human pride that prevented my opponent from accepting my merciful gesture. Or he may have felt he does not deserve the ‘draw’ option. He may have felt perhaps he could somehow win on his own. Who would want to admit that he or she cannot do something to seize victory over defeat by doing something incredible?
What God provided for mankind for salvation was not a ‘draw’ offer as I did. When Jesus Christ went to the cross He carried all the punishment for my sins. When He was killed on the cross, He died in place of me. Death and eternal separation from God is what I deserved, but Jesus Christ died in my place. It was as though I could offer to my opponent a chance to play with my winning pieces and I will play with his loosing pieces and accept defeat on his behalf. Even then my story, and the merciful gesture, fall way short of what Jesus Christ did by million times!
In 2 Cor. 8:9 we read; “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” Compared to what Jesus Christ had offered here, no human can match anything remotely close to it.
Before God, all men are like my opponent. Men & women have no escape because God declared it very emphatically in Romans 3: 10-18 & 23 that there is nothing good in them that would deserve them to be in heaven. Yet people struggle and resist God’s offer for pardon and invitation to spend eternity with Him on God’s term. They say they can do it on their own. Many would say that we need Jesus Christ as an aid, but we need to attain salvation by doing certain things. Gal. 3:21 says that Jesus Christ is our righteousness. Based on that and several other passages, I am completely righteous before God at the moment I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. I will never be less righteous before God or more righteous. But I can be an obedient or disobedient Christian adding more blessings to my life here on earth and for the life to come; or wreck my Christian life and be a miserable person adding nothing to my rewards.
My opponent in the checkers game was given many chances to bring the game to a draw. But he rejected those repeatedly, resulting in losing the game. Many people hear the gospel and keep rejecting it because they are either too proud to admit their sinfulness and helplessness or they think they need to ‘work’ for their salvation. A full unconditional pardon for sins is something humans have a hard time accepting as the truth. But God grants mercy when we don’t deserve it. This is why we call the first four books of the NT as ‘gospels.’ Gospel is the ‘good news’ given to mankind from a loving God.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only [unique] begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Yes! The Bible says – they ‘have’ everlasting life – not that they would get it in the future. It is certainly given to those who believe in Jesus Christ for their forgiveness of sins. God made us rich by paying a hefty ransom; the very life of Jesus Christ! He became POOR while making us RICH.
P.S. God does not make us rich once and then poor; then again rich; then again poor; then hopefully at the end rich again. Once I am made rich I remain rich; once I am made righteous, I remain righteous, because Jesus Christ is the One who made me rich and righteous. All I needed to do was accept His loving offer. This is the good news or the gospel!