Many years ago a woman named Tina would show up at church with her mother. Tina was in her mid-40s, but due to some cognitive disabilities, she communicated like a young child. Her frequent smile was a joy to those who met her, even if a PhD was probably not in her future.
One service, during those heavy weeks leading up to Easter, I was preaching bluntly about our sin. How bad sin is. How much it turns God’s stomach. What we deserve because of it. But Tina wouldn’t have it. Before I could get to the good news, Tina turned to her mother and whispered (loud enough for the pastor to hear!)—“But, Mom, Jesus died on a cross!”
What faith! Yes, my sin is bad. Yes, my life isn’t good enough to earn a spot in heaven. Yes, all have fallen short of the glory of God, myself included. But Jesus died on a cross! There is more to our spiritual story than honest efforts at improving our prayers, empathy, and generosity. Our story ends with Jesus, crucified for every sin and raised so that the worst of sinners wouldn’t have to live with shame.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Tina would love how fast the apostle Paul got to the second part—But the gift of God! But we have life! But Jesus died on a cross!
Listen to Paul and Tina. They’re right. Thank God!