Bible Reading: Romans 6:20-23
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
SOMEWHERE AMONG the people around you are those who picture God as a cosmic bogeyman just waiting for them to do something wrong so he can stomp on them. They figure God’s biggest goal is to trap them, trick them, or rip on them.
But that’s not the God you know. The core of the Bible’s message is that God is love. He’s not scheming to make us miserable. Here’s what he’s really up to: ” ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord.’ They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’ ” (Jeremiah 29: 11). If you want to persuade your non-Christian friends to trust Christ, you first have to assure them that God actually loves them and wants to fill their lives with good things.
But there’s a problem-something standing between your friends and God’s love. It’s called sin. Sin is the condition we’re all in before we trust Christ (see Romans 3:23). Sin is an attitude of independence from God. It doesn’t matter if your friends are violently anti-God or just indifferent toward him. Their self-sufficient attitudes and actions keep them from knowing God and experiencing his awesome love.
The righteous, loving God of the universe can’t stand to be around sin (see Psalm 5:4), so sin separates sinners from him. But wait-it gets worse. Since your unbelieving friends are cut off from the God who made them and loves them, their lives are totally controlled by themselves and their circumstances. They might think that makes them independent, but it doesn’t. They’re in a serious mess, slaves to their own sinful nature (see John 8:34; Romans 6:16). Ultimately, they face the consequence of eternal separation from God (see Romans 6:23).
To try to soothe the emptiness they feel, unbelieving friends might do really good things-like saving the environment or doing charity work. Or they might get into really bad things-like taking drugs or breaking the law. But they are powerless to bridge the gap (see Romans 5:6). Unless they realize the serious weight of their sin, they won’t get why Christ died on the cross. And minus an understanding of Christ’s death and resurrection, they have no reason to trust him.
So you have both bad news and good news to share with your non-Christian friends. The bad news is utterly bad-that their sin separates them from a loving God. But the good news is utterly fantastic-that Christ died and rose again to deal with the sin that cuts them off from their loving Creator.
REFLECT: How can you explain to your non-Christian friends that God isn’t out to get them?
PRAY: Ask God to help you share the whole truth with your friends in a way that encourages them to trust Christ.