This past February, the world saw one of the longest droughts in history end, to the sound of cheers from hundreds of thousands of people around the globe. No, I’m not talking about an agricultural drought: I’m talking about the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl. The Eagles were 0 and 2 in their previous appearances, and then in Super Bowl 39 they finally broke through, upsetting the New England Patriots.
While I’m not an Eagles fan, I have to say that I felt happy for them. Because unlike many fan bases, Eagles fans truly are faithful. Through thick and thin, they’ve stuck by their team, cheering them on no matter what. They’re the opposite of so many “fairweather fans” who come and go with a team’s winning record. This devotion reminded me of a question that came up recently as I was reading a verse in Romans.
Here’s the question: when is the best time to love someone? Is it when they just got a huge promotion, when they are in perfect health, or when their business is doing well? Or, is it better to love someone when they’re down and out, when they have nothing to give you in return? Is it when they have everything, or when they have nothing?
Paul tells us in Romans that, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like the toughest possible time to love someone. Why? Because, there is nothing lovable about a sinner. We all know this, because it’s our reality every day: other people’s sin is what makes them so hard to love!
Here’s the amazing thing about that verse in Romans. It doesn’t say that Christ just loved us when we were sinners. No, it says that Christ died for us! He undertook the ultimate expression of love – sacrificing his own life, dying so that each of us could live. And he did this knowing that, helplessly lost in our sin, we could offer nothing in return.
Yet still, as Hebrews says – “For the joy set before him he endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV). For the promise of redeeming humanity and bringing us into an eternal relationship with the Triune God, Jesus reached out and loved us in the most powerful way possible, at the hardest possible time.
Aren’t you grateful that God isn’t our “fairweather fan”? Instead, he is present when we are afraid, faithful when we are faithless, and loving when we are unlovely. If you ask me, that’s something really worth cheering for!
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of LIFE.